►Tell us about you and your podcast
My name is Seb Francis, and I am the host of the Startup Secrets Podcast, the podcast delves into the stories of entrepreneurs and business leaders around the globe. We find out what makes them tick, the challenges they’ve faced, and the journey they’ve taken to start and grow their company. Startup secrets aims to be a complete ‘how to’ and provide real insight for both aspiring and established entrepreneurs. Our listeners are mainly in the UK, and are predominantly new or aspiring entrepreneurs, however we have a whole lot of listeners who find it both entertaining and educational even if they’re not in entrepreneurial circles.
►Why & how did you start this podcast?
Prior to founding my own company, Titus Learning, I used to listen to a lot of podcasts relating to business and startups. I still tune in regularly but perhaps the type I now listen to has changed. Some my current favourite include the Tim Ferriss show, Hack the Entrepreneur, and the Y Combinator podcast.
I’ve always had a desire to start my own company, and once I’d achieved that, I was keen to see how I could help others found their own. I was fortunate enough to be one of the ambassadors for Virgin StartUp which meant I was constantly chatting with brilliant entrepreneurs. As an avid podcast listener, I thought, what better way to share their stories, advice, and inspiration, than a podcast!
The first episode was released in April 2017, about 4-5 months after I’d come up with the idea. The consistency of releases slipped a little after that when I had other work commitments, etc., but now that there’s a small team of of us working on Startup Secrets, we’ve managed to maintain the regularity of releases and are hoping to increase them in the near future.
►How'd you find the time and funding to do this podcast?
We now release an episode every 2 weeks. We'd definitely like to do them more often and are aiming to do weekly releases by the end of the year, but for the time being we think the regularity is more important than the frequency.
In the early days I was doing all the work myself: sourcing the guests, research, recording the episodes, editing, promotion, etc., although I’m now fortunate enough to have a small team to help with these elements. We probably spend 30 hours between the four of us each week getting everything organised. We all have full time jobs so we’ve got to be clever about how we fit the time in, but I think it’s just a case of good time management and getting dedicated times in the diary!
The podcast was originally funded by myself, and still is to some degree, but we’ve been fortunate to partner with AccountsLab.com as a sponsor and they assist with some of the funding. You can actually start a podcast for very little cost, however, once you get a bit of traction I think it’s worth making some investments to ensure you have the correct equipment, software, marketing tools, etc.
►What do you gain from podcasting?
Our partner, AccountsLab.com, sponsor the podcast and so we get a few £hundred per episode. As the listener numbers increase, we’d like to push sponsorship opportunities out to other companies who are looking to communicate with entrepreneurs. As a podcast listener myself, I actually find the ads quite useful in most cases, as long as it’s a relevant product/service, it’s not pitched too ‘salesy’, and the sponsors change regularly so you’re not hearing about the same thing again and again.
Our downloads were in the hundreds when we first received sponsorship and it’s grown from there with plans to get it into the tens of thousands by the end of the year. Our focus at the moment is on getting great content for the listeners, and worrying about the sponsors when we have more time.
I personally love running the podcast - my network has grown hugely, and I’m able to stay better connected with the network I already had, it has provided an additional income stream that I hope will grow over time, I leave a HUGE amount when talking to the guests, and, even though i run my own company, it’s a refreshing break and re-charge from the day to day!
►How does your podcasting process look like?
BLUE Yeti MIcrophone Professional
Ecamm - Skype recording
Audacity - editing
Garageband - editing
QuickTime - recording
Wix - website
Libsyn - hosting
Podcast Connect - iTunes/Podcast
All social media channels for promotion
Guests have predominantly been found through my network of entrepreneurs, and thereafter asking for recommendations within their network. We've also been fortunate enough that as the show has become better known, even on a relatively low scale, people have got in touch with us directly with some suggestions of guests. This has worked well to keep a good number of guests in the pipeline.
The research before each episode tends to differ depending how well I know the guest beforehand. I always have a 10 min call with guests before we agree to feature them on the podcast, and we're quite open about the fact that if we don't think they're right then we'd rather not feature them than compromise the quality of content. More often than not, I will look through all their social profiles to get the best understanding of the person and their interests. I'll also do specific research around their companies and/or sector. Any previous interviews that have been done are always great: 1) you can make sure you're not just repeating the same questions, and 2) you can get nuggets of info to delve into deeper if it's not been covered in detail.
I used to do all interviews remotely but we're now making a move to doing them in person. There's a bit more planning required but I think the content and the sound quality is better when done in person.
►How do you market your show?
Marketing is fairly organic as it stands. We have a mailing list on our website and send out e-shots when a new episode is released, we also message extensively across all social media channels, which includes both the podcast specific ones, and my personal ones. Wherever we can use the guests social networks for promotion that always helps and we see a strong spike in terms of traffic.
In the medium term we're going to look at utilising social media influencers, PPC campaigns, and looking at in-person events in the UK!
►What advice would you share with aspiring (new) podcasters?
The best bit of advice I've had when starting the podcast was "pick a number of episodes you want to record, and stick to that as an absolute minimum" - if you want to stop doing any more thereafter then you've given it a proper test, you've learnt new editing skills, you'll have become a better communicator/interviewer, and gained plenty of other skills and experiences.
You're getting better on nearly every episode in one area or another so keep pushing on, and just have fun with it :)
Pat Flynn is one recommendation for when you're getting started. In terms of your communication skills, there's an episode on my podcast for that with Dave McQueen ;) and I'd also recommend listening to the guys who are doing really well and take notes from what they do.
►Where can we learn more about you & your podcasts?
Below are the sites we use for the podcast:
Seb Francis LinkedIn - linkedin.com/in/sebfrancis
Seb Francis Twitter - @Sebfrancis1
Seb Francis Instagram - instagram.com/sebfrancis
Podcast website - startupsecretspodcast.com
Podcast Twitter - @_startupsecrets
Podcast Instagram - instagram.com/startupsecretspodcast
Podcast LinkedIn - linkedin.com/company/startup-secrets-podcast
Updated: 6 months ago