Oh my goodness, it is 2022, I cannot believe it and I don't know about you but january is a time for me when I'm feeling so invigorated for the year ahead. I'm full of energy, new goals, dreams, excitement. It's a time for me to learn new things and set my intentions for the rest of the year. And with that in mind, I love to dig into new podcasts like success story hosted by scott D Clary and brought to you by the hubspot podcast network. This is truly one of the most useful podcasts in the world featuring conversations about sales, marketing business and startups with super successful people in the industry. So if you're in the mood for some fresh energy, I would highly recommend starting with episode 189 called How to build an iconic brand with joe foster, the founder and Ceo of Reebok. It is a pretty wild ride. You can listen to success story wherever you get your podcasts. This is Kate ericson for female startup club.
Hey everyone and welcome back to the show. It's dune here, your host and hype girl today on the show, we're speaking to kate from entrepreneurs on fire, which if you haven't heard of it is an epic podcast hosted by john lee Dumas. If you do know it, you actually might have heard female startup clubs ads on his show a month or two back, which was pretty damn cool kate is the behind the scenes wizard that's helped grow the show from humble beginnings, nine years ago into a seven figure business all while living in Puerto rico paradise building the life of their dreams. In this episode, we cover what kate attributes the success of their show and business to her advice for people like me who were early on in the journey and how they're approaching growth today. And while I've got you here in case you missed the memo, I have my very first book coming out at the end of feb and I am so, so, so excited. I'm actually on the lookout for people who can help spread the message and spread the good word.
So if you are someone who might be able to help me out, I would love to meet you. Please do slide into my instagram. DM So we can chat if we aren't friends already, you can find me at the ocean, which is D O N E R O I. S I N. Let's get into it. This is kate for female startup club, customers want more from brands, delivering more, means owning the customer experience, taking control over data acquisition analysis, creative and delivery. Clay vo calls this owned marketing and believe it's the best path to growth for more, visit clay vo dot com slash F. S. C. That's clay Vo dot com slash F. S. C. Female startup precincts kate.
Hi welcome to the show. Thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here. I'm so excited to have you here. How is life in paradise for you today? Oh my goodness, so good, no complaints here, The sun is shining skies super blue. I went out and played tennis for a couple of hours this morning, which felt great. Um yeah, just living the life here in Puerto rico, I've never been, I really, really, really want to come and check it out. It looks so beautiful. It is, but you're not in such a bad place either. I mean Switzerland London and you've got some Australia going on. I mean those are all three beautiful places as well. That's true, that's true. Lots of beautiful places, A little bit different weather, a little bit different weather. I would definitely trade for some sunshine at this point. I feel like it's been a long London's gloomy, you know, it's been a long, gloomy winter season. Hopefully, hopefully we'll come out of it soon. Yes, so I'm so excited to get into this conversation today, especially from a selfish perspective of wanting to learn everything about entrepreneurs on fire and what you've been building with the business alongside john, where do you like to start the story and how does your story start within entrepreneurs on fire?
Yeah, so I like to go back to the very beginning because I always feel like that is, you know, otherwise it can seem like this all just happened, but a lot of hard work and luck and lots of stuff went into it. Um So John and I started dating in 2011, um and I moved out to Maine from California to live with him and I started a job in advertising and marketing and he was working in commercial real estate and one day I came home from work and he said, I have an idea to start a podcast and I was like, awesome, what's a podcast? I was like not familiar with podcasting, I really wasn't that familiar with entrepreneurship at the point either. Um but he said, look, I've got this vision, I know this can work, I'm really inspired by it and I want to inspire other people in the same way that, that I've been inspired. So I'd like, I want to do this, I'm like, you do it, he quit his job, he launched the podcast 2012, and then about four months after he launched.
So I was kind of like on the journey with him without being like in the journey itself. Um and about four months after he launched, he asked me if I would quit my job and joined the team because he had this momentum going, he was gaining listenership, He had a lot of people reaching out to him from his audience saying, you know, I wish I had other like minded people to talk to, because I feel alone on my journey and I'm not sure what steps to take next, and I'm not sure if I'm doing the right things and so john had this idea to start a mastermind, but he was just one person, he had to virtual team members at the, at that point who were helping him with a lot of the logistics of producing the podcast, but in terms of like starting and managing a mastermind, he really didn't have the team to do that, and so he asked me if I would join so we could start creating products and services for our audience and it took some convincing, I was a little bit like, I wasn't really sure if that was the best move for our relationship and I didn't really know what that was gonna look like.
This was not my first leap into entrepreneurship, but definitely my first like partnership leap. Um but after a lot of conversations and a few weeks kind of going back and forth, we decided, okay, let's do this! And this year we just celebrated well actually, technically last year now because we're in 2022 now, um we celebrated nine years together with the business. That is mind blowing. Nine years, wow, that's crazy, I'm interested, you know, in those early days when he was four months into the journey, convincing you to join him, can you paint the picture of, like, how much momentum were you getting? What, what was kind of happening that you were like, oh yeah, okay, let's do it, and were you monetizing anything at that point at all? So at that point, had so our listenership was growing really quickly um and that was in large part due to the fact that John was doing a daily podcast interviewing a successful entrepreneur and you have to picture 2012 podcasting existed, but it wasn't like such a big deal, right?
And so every time he had someone on the show, that was a lot of these people's first time being on a podcast and getting to share their journey and getting to talk about their business and so people were very excited and motivated to share it with their audience and so that really helped us gain this like snowball effect of new listeners finding out about the podcast and that being the only daily podcast interviewing entrepreneurs at the time, so it was a very unique show um at that time, so he started having people ask if he offered coaching, which he had kind of never really got into it, thinking like I'm going to become a coach, because john himself was learning so much about entrepreneurship along the way, right? Like he didn't have all this knowledge and advice to share his guests did, so he was kind of learning along the way with his guests, but because he became such an authority figure, because he was the host of the podcast, you know, people were asking about coaching, so he got up coaching certification um he started doing coaching and so he was monetizing coaching a little bit and right around the time that I joined the team, he actually had a couple of authors reach out to him and say that they were that they wanted to launch um a book and they were wondering if they could come on the show to talk about it and he thought, huh, okay, well if you um want to sponsor the show then you can come on as a sponsor and we'll talk about your book launch.
And so he very like happenstance came about this way to start getting sponsors for the show, like individuals who were launching books who wanted to talk about their book. And so he had started just like just barely started on the sponsorship route. So, um we weren't in the green yet. I mean we're still in the red in terms of operating expenses and everything that he put into starting the business again, he had to virtual team members at the time. So it's not like we were, you know, generating loads of money at the time. Um It was a really, you know, a slow start, but a strong start. And when did things start to change? Like at what point was like, where was the podcast when it did start to become something where you could go out and, you know, charge really interesting sponsorship packages and deals and things like that. Yeah, I would say, as we got later into 2013, um 2013 was a big year for us.
Um it's when I joined the team, we launched our first mastermind and we launched our mastermind with 50 people, but and very quickly got up to 100 and that was like a pie in the sky goal for us. Yes, we were, we thought the exact same thing. Um so, and and that was because, you know, our our listenership was big enough that when john talked about the idea of starting a mastermind on the podcast and that concept had already been proven because the only reason he had the idea to do that is because loads of people from the audience were reaching out to him and asking him, you know, where do I go to find like minded people, how can I surround myself with people who are on the same path as me. And so john thought, well I can create that space for people, I can be the one to bring people together and create a facebook group and share the knowledge that I have and help people on their journey. And so, um in 2000 and 13 july, we launched the mastermind october we launched our flagship course, podcasters Paradise, which were still running today.
It's our online podcasting community. And um and that year we started taking on sponsors on a more regular basis, um you know, like bigger companies started showing interest in sponsoring the podcast. So I would say Like later into 2013, is when we started generating pretty consistent revenue and had gotten ourselves out of the red. Yeah, that's amazing. And I love how you guys take the approach of documenting your monthly kind of earnings, where you're spending money, how, how you're making money, that kind of thing, Could you share a little bit about what your revenue drivers are now and kind of like what's the biggest pieces of the puzzle and what's kind of, you know, worth pursuing if you're going into that route of online digital products, communities, podcasting, etcetera. Yeah, so to your point, we have been documenting our income since the very beginning. Um we actually have a single-income report, that's our 1st 365 days.
So kind of everything we talked about, anybody could go back and see that first year. My God that's so cool. Yeah, the money spent invested, john hired a mentor, he was a part of the mastermind himself and then the products and services that I just talked about that we started launching that we're generating revenue um today in the business. Our biggest driver of revenue right now is sponsorships. Um we've been, you know, very lucky to connect with companies who are a great fit for audience um and we're able to really convert for them. So like zip recruiter has been one of our sponsors for years and they sign on on an annual basis to sponsor the podcast. So we have a lot of recurring, like really solid relationships that we've been building with sponsors for years. Um, so that is currently our biggest driver of revenue, but sponsorship isn't super easy to come by because you have to have the listenership and the listenership and the sponsor have to fit together right? Um, so sponsorships is a big one podcasters Paradise, as I mentioned, still running and we are now at, we started with a lifetime membership where you would just pay one price to join and you become a lifetime member.
Um, around 2000 15, I want to say we switched to a recurring revenue model. So that still generates around 15,000 a month for us and recurring revenue and along with like new members joining because that's open all the time. People can join any time. Um, so courses is another one and then, um, we do have a set of physical products. We have three journals. Um, and a book that John launched earlier in 2021. Um, so we do generate a bit of revenue from that as well. And then, um, trailing would be our affiliate relationships. Um, and that has kind of been like an ebb and flow for us. Like there was a time where we, um, affiliate revenue was a lot higher for us. We were engaged in a lot more affiliate relationships than we are now. Um, I would say over the past couple of years, like we've really just honed in on that 80 20 for us and it really is the sponsorships and the courses um where we feel we can make the biggest impact and uh, and generate revenue and it's stuff that we love doing.
Like I absolutely love our community and it makes me so happy to have this win win win relationship with our sponsors because, you know, our sponsors winning, we're winning and our audience is winning. So it's a, it's working really well for us right now. Yeah, that's amazing having like the different, the different revenue streams and kind of like leaning more into the things that bring you joy and actually drive a significant amount of the revenue. That's so cool for anyone who's kind of just getting started in podcasting or is early on in the journey. What would you say? What would your advice be around sponsorship? Like when should you go looking for sponsorship at what kind of point in the journey is it worthwhile to start getting out there and asking for deals? I think honestly anytime. But the key is it has to be either a very niche audience. Um so it doesn't have to be a huge audience, but it does have to be super specific because then you can go to sponsors and show them your engagement and um the fact that they'd be a perfect fit for your audience.
If you have like a marketing show, then it's going to be very difficult for you to prove to a sponsor that your audience is the right fit for them right? Um but if you have a Pinterest marketing show then you can really hone in on some sponsors that would fit really well. So I think at any time if you have a super niche and engaged audience um that you can absolutely reach, start reaching out to sponsors, um The other thing to consider though, and then, sorry, if you're coming at it from the other end Really, um looking to 5000 downloads and upper episode is like a good place to start, but in both camps Really, probably more like 10,000 depending on what advertisers you're you're talking with um in either of those camps, I think it's really important to consider what it's worth to you um because of course putting sponsorships in your show um you know, if they're helpful to the audience and and they're bringing value, then that's one thing.
But if it's just a slew of like for advertisements that maybe don't fit great or aren't benefitting the audience, then what is that doing to your show and what's that doing to your audience, whether people are dropping off because of that, so you really have to weigh how much is a sponsor gonna be willing to pay you, and is that amount worth um what you're doing to put them on because probably like 80% of my working time is spent on sponsorships. Like it's not a quick and super fast, easy thing, you know, to develop these relationships to get the reads right to um you know, the invoicing and every, there's a lot that goes into it. So it's not just like, hey, I connected with a sponsor and they're gonna pay me money and I'm gonna talk on the show like there's a lot, a lot more moving pieces than that. Yeah, absolutely. And this is a really nice segue into what I wanted to move into, which is more around like your day to day role within the business from what I've read, you're very much kind of the engine, the back end and you've got all the systems and processes and everything set up so that the show can have its success.
So I'd love to understand, you know, what are the key systems and processes that you've implemented and what is your day to day life like behind the scenes? Mm hmm. So, um definitely around our content. That's a big one. Um so any content that's getting put out on the blog um content that's in our newsletters. Um we have a weekly newsletter where we talk about the podcast episodes that are going live or that have gone live. Um We have a weekly roundup where we share resources and tips with our audience with our newsletter list so that the content um system that we have together is definitely critical because it helps us stay consistent um that and of course the production schedule for the podcast is a biggie um because that's kind of at the center of everything, so the system that we have in place for that so that we're, you know, we're always a month ahead on our content. Um we're never at a loss for um or up against the wall for publishing or anything like that, which creates a lot of space and a lot of bandwidth to be able to spend more time working on um growth.
Things for the business are sponsored. I mean we have a very tight system for sponsorships, like how we reach out to, I think in no, I think it was in november we had like 17 different sponsors, so the amount of communication and back and forth that happens um every, you know, on an ongoing basis with sponsors is we have a tight system going for that as well. Um definitely for our community as well. So for podcasters Paradise, that's probably our biggest most engaged community that we have and then we also have a facebook community around our journals and the book and so those two communities um putting time into that every single day is also kind of a system that we have down to make sure that were present. Um so I mean on a day to day basis for me, a lot of it's looking like I have a, a sort of flow that I go through in the morning to where? Um I use a sauna for my task and project management, which I really love the system.
It's very super simple. And so everything that I have to do in a given day is in a sauna and it's dated so I can just go to my asana, see exactly what I have on my plate for the day. And usually that consists of doing a sweep on social media. So be spending time in each of our groups um checking my calendar for anything that I have scheduled like an interview like this. Um, and then making sure that I'm getting into any communications, my inbox sponsorships um or any, most of the community related. Um like to do in terms of, you know, somebody is having an issue getting into the membership site or they need to change their password, their billing, all that kind of stuff. My V. A. Um handles that but it's still routing it to the correct place. So just making sure things are being routed correctly. So I would say systems for content, system for the podcast, system for sponsorship, system for team and system for our community are probably like the top.
Oh my gosh, you're like the ultimate operator implementer. This is blowing my mind how much you do it? It's nine years in the making nine years in the making and you've got it down to a fine art. It sounds like, do you have just one V. A, like between the both of you or like how big is the team outside of Youtube? So we have 33 V. A. S. Um one is john's dedicated assistant, one is my dedicated assistant and then we have one who's really working on the road um helping us with the podcast and also uh he manages our PPC on amazon for our journals. Oh, okay. Right. Got it. That's so interesting, wow. It's it's a tight ship around there so much. That's crazy. Hey, it's doing here, I don't know about you, but every January I think I'm going to change into this totally new person like dune version, but instead, it's just me with a fresh take on the world around me.
Same. But different hubspot crm platform helps you notice the subtle changes in your customer behavior that make them the same but different, helping you to give them the best customer experience possible With powerful new marketing operations service and sales tools, hubspot is ready to help you transform and grow your customer experiences in 2022 from conversation intelligence tools to automated marketing campaigns and even data quality tools that automatically merge, duplicate customer records, hubspot tracks every teeny tiny detail so you can fully optimize your customers experience even when you haven't done something like capitalized a customer's name like that level of detail, learn more about how you can transform your customer experience with a hubspot crm platform at hubspot dot com. I'd love to talk a little bit about you mentioned before, you know, when it comes to growth, what you need to do, what are the biggest kind of needle movers that you've seen in the last 12 months or what are you focusing on for this upcoming year when it comes to growth?
And actually the second part of the question is how have you grown Over the nine years? Like what do you attribute your success to? Yeah, so I would say in terms of over the last nine years, something that I'm really big on and that I'm careful to focus on um whenever I'm doing interviews and talking about the growth of our business, is that nothing that we ever created was created simultaneously. And what I mean by that is we were never um you know, launching a community and also doing, you know, launching a book and also creating a journal, like everything was done um on its own total focus on that, making sure that everything was, you know, tight launching that working out any kinks creating a system for it and then we could focus on other things, so I think a lot of the times, you know, we have so many opportunities, there's a lot of opportunities, right? There's a lot of great platforms, um online courses uh sponsorships for your podcast, like there's any number of things that we could be focusing on at any given time, but I think it's really important that you focus on one of those to get it going and get it up and running to prove it to you, to prove the concept of it, then to improve the way that it works and once it's functioning and you can create a system around it to help save you time when you do that thing, then you can focus on the next thing.
So I really attribute a massive portion of our growth to that mentality of not trying to do, you know, five things at once, always focusing on one at a time. Um So as I mentioned, like, you know, we first launched the Mastermind community, we focused on that mastermind community, we got it up and running, we got all the members in there, we made sure it was working really well, we put a system around it so that everyone on our team knew their roles as it related to the mastermind, and then once we had all that set up, then we launched podcasters Paradise and we started um creating that. So um I think that's really important for ongoing growth, otherwise you just burn out or you get overwhelmed or you're doing too many things in too many different directions, so none of them really work. And this clutter Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Oh yeah and frustration and you know, feeling like you're not making progress. I mean it's just a recipe for disaster. Um and it's not easy, it's not easy when you have a lot of opportunities and a lot of things that you're interested in to be able to focus on just one.
Um but I really believe that that's what it takes. Um so so that's how, how we've gotten so much growth and then I would say in terms of like future growth, this is another thing that I love to focus on because it took me and us john and I a long time to realize that um we were creating a business that we, we're not like up for. Um so around 2000 and 18 we had probably like seven or eight contractors that we had on retainer, we had five people on the team plus us and we were just like creating more, launching more, doing more and we got to a point where we were like, wait a second, we created this business for lifestyle freedom and you know, to be able to take off and travel when we want and to make, you know, of course make an impact for our audience and and generate revenue, but really like we were, we were ready to have a business that could run without us if it needed to, not that we wanted that to be the every day of it, but that we could step away and not worry about the business like crumbling and so we really redirected our focus.
We got, we adjusted our contractor relationships. Um We ended up dropping two of our virtual team members who just honestly weren't necessary for the work that we were looking at a head. And um and today as I said, you know, it's myself john and we have three virtual team members. We don't work with any contractors anymore except for, you know, we have a C. P. A. We have a lawyer. Um that type of stuff but in terms of like project based stuff. Um and we really just really, we, we realize that the type of business we want want to run doesn't require us 40 hours a week. And the type of business we want to run doesn't look like launching all these new products and services. What it really looked like is that 80 20 focusing in on what's already working for us and doubling down on that. So I mean of course we want to continue to grow ourselves personally become better individuals, become better entrepreneurs. But in terms of like new things, new projects, new courses, new communities that we're looking to launch, we really don't have anything on the horizon.
We're really happy with where the business is at right now and we feel that being able to redirect our energy back into what we already have going with podcasters paradise with the journals, with john's book. Um, I mean that was really big last year, the book launch took up a massive amount of time. That was a huge focus for us. Um, and all the bonuses off the back end of it. But yeah, in terms of growth, we're really looking at like continuing to improve what we already have. Does that mean? It kind of sounds like you really focus on organic growth through launch originally through the launches of new products and new offerings, but now, instead of focusing on pushing for growth, it's kind of like maintaining what you already have and just growing organically through that. Yeah, about right. Yeah, definitely. And it's really great. We were very lucky. Last year we joined the hubspot podcast network, which has been a big driver for continued listenership growth. And I really do feel like with jOHn's book coming out last year, you know, we have um and the journals on amazon, I do feel like people are finding out about us every day who have no idea who we are, who have never heard the podcast before our site because it has, you know, because it's so old in the grand scheme of things.
Um and we've been creating content on it for nine years now, we get a ton of organic traffic through google. Um, and jOHn and I are on other podcasts all the time. So we're constantly getting out there and you know, putting in the time to add value to other audiences to connect with other entrepreneurs and in that way, um get the word out as well. So yeah, we've, we've always been big fans of content marketing and organic growth. What advice do you have for someone like me who's really early on in the podcast journey, but looking to someone like you and john being like, wow, I'm gonna try and get there one day. Yeah, I think that the, I think it's really important to realize that no, two journeys are going to look exactly the same. Um and so, you know, we get a lot of people in our podcasting community like wanting a very specific and exact answer to solve maybe a struggle or challenge that they're up against and a lot of the times the answer is just like you have to test different things out and see what's going to work for you um because we can tell you what worked for us, but when we started our podcast, the landscape was very different as we discussed earlier in this episode.
So I think it's really important to just stay flexible, be willing to pivot and know that you can try different things and if they don't work then you just have to be able to be flexible enough to say, okay, I tried it, it's not working, you know, be tracking those metrics so that, you know, so that you have a basis for whether or not something's working and when you find something that works double down, um I get like, it kills me when I see people doing things that are working really well, but then they start moving in like four other directions. I know we talked a bit about focus to and really like honing in on one thing that's working um but I think that's also a critical lesson. It's like if you find something that's working instead of expending your energy, trying to go in like four different directions or try a bunch of other things double down on that thing that's working. Um I feel like you're like telling me exactly how I am trying to do all the things and if something is working, I'm like we should do more, we should do all the things you are alone.
You know, when you're saying though, just to like dig one layer deeper here, you're saying that you're tracking something and if you should know what's working, that kind of thing, how do you determine if something truly is working or if it's only kind of working because obviously, like you can see when things start to snowball, but it's not that kind of like a viral moment maybe that people are looking for and then they're trying to replicate that oftentimes it is that, you know, smaller kind of growth through like consistency, I guess you would say how can you actually determine whether you should double down on the thing? Yeah, I think that I think having a clear picture of what success is for you is really important. Um and it has to be realistic, right? Because to your point you can go for like this viral itty and these crazy stats that are, you know, very unique. That's not a lot of people get like these huge jumps and downloads or whatever it might be. Um so it has to be a realistic goal for you and for me on my podcasting journey, because I've launched several podcasts of my own and I always kind of had in the back of my mind like the growth of E.
O fire, which is very different to the growth of the podcast that I've launched and for me it's always a matter of giving myself those small goals and once I'm able to hit them then up leveling from there. So um I mean downloads is the easiest thing to, or one of the easiest things to track because you're just looking at numbers. Um I don't always like to use that as an example because for me, I don't really think that downloads are the most important thing for a podcast. Um but you could also do like start tracking engagement. Um that was always a really big one for me. I knew that if I could engage with my audience and understand um you know how they found me why they decided to tune in what types of things were really like triggers for them or that they really resonated with and that would help me become a better podcast host. And so like for me a lot of the times, um I would test out different calls to action and you know, maybe my call to action that was asking people to sign up for a newsletter. I get maybe like one or two people signing up, but then I'd have a call to action for people to reach out to me on instagram and I get like seven people send me a direct message.
So it's kind of like being able to compare to and that's why I think it's important to try a bunch of different things out to see what's gonna work for you because when you're able to have that comparison, then it makes it quite obvious, okay, my call to action, trying to get people to sign up for my newsletter is not working. But when I ask people to engage with me on instagram, like that is working. So I think having, having that comparison is important and understanding, okay, like let me let me kind of double down on this engagement thing and it doesn't mean I can't circle back to the newsletter thing, Maybe I need to start testing out different offers to get people um to want to do that, but um is that helpful? Yeah, I love that. And that makes so much sense. So much sense. I'm definitely going to start tracking those. I've never really tracked my end call to actions for what I ask people to do. I just kind of like go with the flow and like mix it up so I guess I don't know what works and what doesn't work. Yeah. That's really interesting. That's a that's an eye opener for me.
Thank you so much for sharing that. Thanks for listening to this amazing episode. We are testing out something new here for the next while and we're splitting up each episode into two parts, the main interview part and then the six quick questions part to make them easier to listen to. So that's part one done, tune into part 2 to hear the six quick questions. Hey, it's Doom here. Thanks for listening to this episode of the female startup club podcast. If you're a fan of the show, I'd recommend checking out female startup club dot com where you can subscribe to our newsletter and learn more about our D. I. Y. Course the ads, N. B. A. I also truly appreciate each and every review that comes our way. It might seem like such a small thing, but reviews help other heirs find us. So please do jump on and subscribe rate and review the show. And finally, if you know someone who would benefit from hearing these inspiring stories, please do share it with them and empower the women in your network. See You soon, mm hmm, mm hmm.