While there are many top-notch online learning resources for specific components of creating a podcast, quality comprehensive courses available for both aspiring and amateur podcasters are few and far between. Enter Podcasters’ Paradise— a learning library and community created by John Lee Dumas, the force behind Entrepreneur on Fire. Podcasters’ Paradise is among the best one stop shops for everything you need to know about creating a compelling podcast. The skills and theory illustrated throughout the course also translate across the board to almost any media, marketing, or content creation career path.
Investors, corporations, and consumers are spending more time in the audio content space than ever before. The first half of 2014 alone has witnessed a 50% increase in audio streaming. While the biggest players in the audio space provide streaming music services, on-demand podcasting is reaching a vast audience thanks to more people with mobile devices. New services like Swell and Stitcher, have tapped into a highly segmented market previously dominated by larger firms like Apple. Even though Apple hasn’t seriously promoted podcasts since they were released in 2005, the podcast section of iTunes has everything from politics to sports to dancing to urban farming. There is literally a podcast for anything, the popular or obscure.
Here are some more fascinating podcast stats:
- In July 2013, Apple hit one billion podcast subscriptions in iTunes
- iTunes hosts around 250,000 individual podcasts with around 8 million individual episodes1
- This American Life, the highest rated podcast on iTunes, has about 800,000 downloads per episode2
- An all time high 39 million Americans have listened to a podcast in the past month3
Some podcasting experts with a lot to say on a specific subject are generating substantial income through sponsorships. Niche content gives niche products an effective place to advertise. Some podcasters even use their podcasts as a means to promote their existing endeavors. Smart Passive Income hosted by Pat Flynn is a podcast focused on generating income through online business and grossed almost $84,000 in June 20144. Pat uses his podcast to promote his blog and some of his own web based businesses. Furthermore, an Edison Research Study determined that 4 in 10 podcast listeners have a household income of at least $75,0003. In other words, people listening to podcasts have money to spend.
But more specifically, podcasting also provides business owners and entrepreneurs more opportunities to promote, market, and develop a unique brand within their niche.
So You Want to be a Podcaster
On the surface, it might seem somewhat intuitive to produce a podcast. Just record yourself talking about the subject of your choosing and/or expertise, upload to the cloud, and tell everyone you know, right? In reality, there are many moving parts one needs to know, especially if you want develop a podcast with a substantial audience and profit from it. Between audio production, navigating distribution platforms, and marketing your podcast, there is certainly much to master.
Podcasters’ Paradise is not for someone seeking to get rich quickly. Nor is it for people starting a podcasting career from scratch without any other expertise. It is best used to supplement what you are already doing. Outside of the media world, this course (and podcasting in general) may not explicitly add to your potential employment value in the job market, although a podcast with a substantial audience certainly boosts your resume and demonstrates a breadth of marketable skills.
|Subjects Covered||Audio Recording and Editing, Podcasting, Social Media, Monetization|
|Total Courses||Over 130 videos, 25 webinars, 20+ email templates and other documents.|
|Content Level||Beginner to advanced|
|Format||Self-paced video learning, webinars, and forum discussion with additional resources|
|Cost||$1,297 for a lifetime membership|
John Lee Dumas: Rockstar From Scratch
There is perhaps no better person to produce Podcasters’ Paradise than John Lee Dumas, an all-star podcaster with a proven track record for starting a podcast from scratch and turning it into a seven-figure business5.
After serving in the US Army following college, John tried his hand at a number of different careers and even enrolled in law school before realizing it wasn’t his calling. He eventually began a career in real estate and started listening to podcasts to pass time in his car. His podcast, Entrepreneur on Fire, was born in June 2012 and by September 23rd John launched his show at a time when few others were producing daily podcasts.
With over 600 daily episodes available and over 7.4 million downloads since inception, Entrepreneur on Fire is one of of the most popular business podcasts in iTunes. It generates over $100,000 of net revenue per month from ad spots and affiliate product sales–and broke $200,000 in June 2014.
John is a self-taught success model and created Podcasters’ Paradise under the assumption that you come in with the same amount (or lack thereof) of experience. He created it in response to a struggle many of his listeners were having as they tried to create a podcast of their own. The entire course and community was built exactly how John would have wanted it for himself as an aspiring podcaster without any experience
The Full Review
In order to take full advantage of Podcasters Paradise, you must be a self-starter willing to initiate learning entirely on your own. The entire program is self-directed and, outside of the members forum, the only one-on-one guidance directly from instructors comes at an extra price.
Above all else, Podcasters’ Paradise is a resource library and community. The program is built around over 130 instructional on-demand videos created and produced by John Lee Dumas and members of his team including other podcasting experts and some previous “graduates” of Podcasters’ Paradise. John hosts the majority of the tutorials.
The videos are thorough and concise with an average length of about 10 minutes. Some hover around 2 minutes while the longest has about 30 minutes worth of content. Occasionally the videos are a bit slow, but they are all on-demand and allow the user to skip through them as necessary.
In addition to the videos, the community offers a forum and closed Facebook group exclusively for Podcast Paradise members. While the forum doesn’t move at an extremely rapid pace, the threads are engaging, informative, and populated by an active group of motivated, passionate self-starters with lots of great ideas. John also hosts monthly live webinars for the community that usually involve a guest with podcasting and entrepreneurial expertise in a Google Hangout environment with a live chat for a Q&A session following a discussion with John.
The forum aside, all instructional content and resources provided by John and his team is broken into three topics: Create, Grow, and Monetize. Each of these contain subcategories of their own and videos are specifically labeled according to their content. The layout of the site strongly suggests a course flow from one topic to the next, but you are free to move from one subject or video to another.
The Bare Essentials: Creating Your Podcast
The “Create” section is by far the most rudimentary and podcast-specific section of the course and walks you through everything you need to know to create a podcast.
The first set of tutorials provide tools for brainstorming a compelling podcast topic and format including ways to identify your audience. There is also a short video about audio-recording equipment.
A huge portion of this section is devoted to the technical production of the podcast, specifically recording and editing your audio. It covers three common pieces of audio production software available at different price points: Adobe Audition, Garageband, and Audacity. Audition is industry standard professional software, and if you’re paying for the course, you’ll seriously benefit spending the $20/month for full access to the software via Adobe Creative Cloud. Given the breadth of tools in Audition that John uses for his own show, Audition is the focus of this section. That said, Garageband (free with Mac OS) and Audacity (free downloadable software for Mac or Windows) are both great tools as well.
Anyone with audio experience can likely skip through most of these videos. That said, as an audio production professional, I learned a couple new neat tricks. John also covers to some web-based production tools that I was previously unaware of. Regardless of your existing technical skills, it’s very helpful seeing an audio production workflow specifically for podcasts.
John is not an audio engineering expert. However, he openly acknowledges his shortcomings stating occasionally that he doesn’t know why things work the way they do, but they work nonetheless. One of the guest instructors, Mike Russell of Music Radio Creative, has more professional knowledge of Adobe Audition and jumps in for a few tutorials.
Although there are avenues for learning podcasting skills from course providers other than Podcasters’ Paradise, John frames everything in the context of podcasting. Among the most helpful videos was the 30 minute clip of John producing his podcast from start to finish.
The distribution and hosting videos are especially informative. There are a number of choices of cloud storage for podcasts and John makes an excellent case for Lybsyn. He explains how it syncs via RSS feeds with iTunes and Stitcher, arguably the most popular podcast discovery and distribution platforms.
The “Create” section of the course is the the barebones process of creating a podcast from inception to release and is a natural starting point for anyone new to the course.
Your Podcast Won’t Grow Itself
While the “Create” section of the course touches on basic growth strategies, the “Grow” section dives much deeper into podcast-specific tactics for promotion. It also explored how to create an entire public platform of web-based tools to deliver supplemental content for your audience and market your show.
The majority of this section is hosted by Kate, John’s social media expert. There are a few tutorials for creating an email opt-in for your website, but there is greater depth to the videos on five of the most important social networking platforms and tutorials on Hootsuite, a social networking scheduler and content management system. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+ all have separate tutorials. If you’re a social media guru, or even maintain an active web presence, you can probably skip through a lot of these videos as they are designed for absolute beginners. That said, the depth of content moves efficiently and subsequent tutorials quickly move on to more advanced strategies and skills. These tutorials don’t quite achieve the depth you might find on Lynda.com, but their concision will save you hours of valuable learning and execution time.
There are additional tutorials for social media strategies specific to your podcast format with each of the covered social media platforms. In short, the tutorials differ according to whether your podcast is self-hosted or not, whether you do or don’t have guests, and whether your your podcast focuses more on discussions or interviews.
Without a doubt, the the most compelling part of this section consists of multiple tutorials illustrating how to tap into your guests professional network and commingling with their own followers to promote your podcast. John relates this to the importance of featuring authority figures from within your niche on your show and offers comprehensive advice for connecting with them and presenting your podcast as an opportunity for them to promote themselves as well. These videos don’t waste time on the most obvious components of polite professional communication and instead focus on specific strategies for making your guests’ experience on your show as simple, pleasant and easy as possible from scheduling to following up on the launch of the episode. John’s tremendous emphasis on positive and proactive relationships as the key to growth gets the attention it deserves in this excellent content.
The “Growth” section also features tutorials on simple production elements such as intros and outros and effectively using them to enhance the aesthetics of your show. There are also videos on interview strategies and the greats ways to research and prepare for your podcast.
This section is most relevant to an intermediate podcaster, ideally with the creation process completed or at least well underway. That said, there is obvious value in learning these these strategies to help an aspiring podcaster specific their topic depending on what growth strategies resonate most with them.
Making Some Money
The “Monetization” section of the course walks you through multiple money making opportunities and presents them in a realistic way that show the true possibility of making a career out of a hobby beyond just making a podcast. In short, John shows you how to develop additional and related products or services for their podcasting niche that generate cash flow outside of the podcast itself. A robust and comprehensive platform for your podcast is necessary for most of these strategies and these videos assume that you already have a website and existing online presence aside from your audio program.
Traditionally, radio and other audio entertainment is frequently monetized through advertising. Podcasting is no exception, although instead of playing ads like you might hear on your car radio or even in Pandora, advertising dollars are earned through sponsorships from products or brands related to your podcasting niche. The two 24 minute videos on sponsorship are among the longest tutorials in the course and are absolutely excellent, covering literally everything you need to know from technical jargon to pitching potential sponsors and eventually closing the deal.
Podcasters’ Paradise also steps away from audio and focuses on developing yourself as an authority within your niche and additional services to offer your audience. A popular podcast sets the stage for speaking at industry conferences, writing ebooks, personal coaching related to your niche, and even creating webinars and courses of your own. Many of these tutorials are among the newest videos in the course (as of the time of writing this review, there are a few listed as “coming soon”) and provide comprehensive instruction to help a user decide how to most effectively generate income.
The rest of the monetization tutorials cover tools such as the the Amazon Associates Program and earning affiliate commissions by recommending resources on your podcasts’ website. This includes tutorials on taking payments via PayPal and setting up subscription billing for recurring products and services.
As the course flow suggests, the Monetize section of Podcasters’ Paradise is most relevant after building strong growth and distribution platforms.
Forum and Facebook
Podcasters’ Paradise features an in-course forum and private Facebook group for community members, or as John calls them, “Paradisians.” The forum is well-organized and is also broken down into Create, Grow, and Monetize sections in addition to sections for getting started and FAQs. I introduced myself shortly after joining the community and was quickly greeted by fellow Paradisians and Kate, the Community Manager. It wasn’t long until my peers contacted me asking for reviews of their podcast demos.
While the in-course forum has a few new posts everyday, the private group on Faceboook is incredibly active with multiple posts everyday and tons of comments. John is very active there. Paradisians use the group to get feedback, ask questions, pitch ideas, and network. Everybody is incredibly responsive and even a quick look at group activity reveals a community of passionate peers who appear intelligent and motivated, and have some level of expertise in their field.
As my podcast journey continues, I anticipate this being the most powerful and most fun component of Podcasters’ Paradise.
Other Learning Content and Resources
The Resources section of Podcasters’ Paradise is invaluable with email templates, to-do checklists, infographics for quick reference, and other tools to keep you organized and maximize your productivity.
A list of additional third party web tools categorized with the resources section under Create, Growth, and Monetize labels. If you’re looking for information or additional services not covered or offered directly within Podcasters’ Paradise, it’s very likely you’ll find a link to it here. Many of these third party services come at an extra price and John justifies their use if the description of the product doesn’t speak for itself (it usually does). In some cases, John has organized exclusive deals for Paradisians.
John also offers personal coaching and mentoring for additional fees as well as a Total Launch Package that includes audio production services. The Podcasters’ Paradise membership additionally gives you access to monthly webinars and Q&A sessions with John and special guests.
Cost of Program
At first glance, $1k+ is a steep price tag. However, there are very few places on the Internet where you can find this type of education. Additionally, the one time cost to Podcasters’ Paradise grants lifetime access with a money back guarantee if you are not 100% satisfied within 30 days. A 12 month payment plan is also available.
Ease of Use
The site is laid out in a way to streamline a specific course-flow and the additional resources are clearly labeled. Those who like to learn on the move, will be sad to learn the site is not optimized for mobile.
Quality of Content
The content is thorough, engaging, and, for the most part, essential. John tailors tutorials to provide exactly what you need, usually without extraneous material.
Quality of Support
Direct support from John and Kate at Podcasters’ Paradise is limited, although Kate is accessible through the Forum and exclusive Facebook group. However, there is a ton of peer support.
It’s probably not going to do much to put your Podcasters’ Paradise membership on your resume and most likely won’t catch recruiters attention. The entrepreneur or business owner will benefit the most from enrolling in the course and community. However, if there is one course that will prepare you to podcast on behalf of a brand this might be it. It got me a job with SkilledUp :).
The premier place to learn Podcasting
Although other online learning tools exist for this material outside of Podcasters’ Paradise, John Lee Dumas puts everything you need to know into one place. Perhaps this course’s greatest stength is the breadth of content showing you how to create an entire product and platform for your podcast.
This course and community is designed for a self-starter who has the time to truly immerse themselves in the content. It is entirely self-directed and on-demand. The degree to which you participate in the community is up to you. If you’re willing to spend the money on a lifetime membership, we suggest you spend as much time as possible interacting with the course content and community.
A lifetime membership in Podcasters’ Paradise provides much more than a learning library for starting a podcast from scratch. The strategies, processes, tools, and instructions have universal application beyond podcasting and the supportive community of fellow podcasters is inundated with networking opportunities.
If Podcasters’ Paradise is for you, it really is a one stop shop for all of your needs as a self-starting entrepreneur.
[Editor Note: Outside of my career as an audio professional and aspiring podcaster, I will absolutely use this course and community for anything related to creating, growing, and monetizing content. Even with a B.A. in broadcasting and a professional background in both digital audio and terrestrial radio, my ongoing experience in Podcasters’ Paradise is extremely enlightening, exciting, and informative.]Footnotes