How to Use Private Podcasts to Increase Engagement with Raphie Wagner

Apr 18, 2022

Today's episode features podcast strategist Raphie Wagner, here for a conversation about the different ways you can leverage private podcasts in your business: in your lead generation strategy, client onboarding process, and even communicating with your remote team.

Raphie Wagner (she/her) is taking the podcasting world by storm with her inspiring transition from occupational therapist to podcast strategist. She is an early adopter of various SaaS platforms, and when she's not deep in thought with the latest and greatest software platform, she's spending time with her husband and her six parrots. You can connect with Raphie on Instagram @raphieknowspods.

Mentioned in this Episode:

JACOB RATLIFF: Hello and welcome to the Client Attractor Show, where we talk about concrete tactics and strategies that you can use to attract your dream clients. I'm your host, Jacob Ratliff, client attraction coach, and I am here today with Raphie Wagner, who uses she/her pronouns.

JR: She is taking the podcasting world by storm and has really been going through this amazing transition from occupational therapist to a podcast strategist. She is an early adopter of literally any software as a service or app, and I can relate to that because I am very much the same way. If she is not doing all things podcasting, or in thought with the latest and greatest software platforms, she is hanging with her husband and her six parrots. So Raphie, thank you so much for being here today. I'm really excited to dive right into this conversation.

RAPHIE WAGNER: So am I, and I'm so glad that I include the parrots in there because you may hear them right now today.

JR: Perfect. Yes, absolutely. So we are here today to talk about private podcasts, and the different applications and possibilities that they have. This is something that's honestly really new for me, as well, so let's go ahead and just dive in with what are we talking about when we are talking about private podcasts? What is a private podcast in the first place?

RW: Sure. A private podcast can be anything from behind a paywall, or it can be a private feed that's not syndicated. What I mean by that is it's a private RSS feed. Not syndicated means that it's not on the major platform, so it's not being pulled by Apple and Spotify and all of the others. Right now, there's such a big trend with private podcasts for so many different reasons, and we'll get into that, but the main thing is that this is made for private audiences or, like I said, behind a paywall, very specific in nature, and very customizable. It's almost like having a little content podcast, and it might be very specific to a topic or your audience, but it's not syndicated. That's the most important thing. It's not out there in the world. It's via that RSS email behind the paywall, etc.

JR: Got it. When a lot of people, myself included, think about podcasting, we think about it as this really amazing tool for growing your audience or getting in front of a lot of new people. And here, that's not the case. So, could you tell me a little bit more about how a private podcast could be valuable for coaches and entrepreneurs?

RW: Absolutely. Now, a private podcast still can be part of that client attractor because it could be part of a lead magnet. You could think of it that way. There are some creators out there that are doing it that way, where they create, let's say, for lack of better words, a book that happens to be a private podcast, then they use that as a lead magnet to get people into their world. If you think of it as a lead magnet, it might be an amazing way for somebody to get into a podcast without getting into a podcast; it's not going to be official, out there for the public. That is one use, so keep that in mind.

RW: But the other uses… its possibilities are endless. Some of my favorite use cases that I have worked on with clients of all sizes, as far as audience sizes, is using a private podcast for onboarding. You're onboarding a client, and there's always a lot to read and a lot to go over, so why not make it a little bit more of an on-the-go experience for your new clients, and have a private podcast feed that goes through the process that they're about to see? Maybe send that immediately after they pay and sign a contract, so they get an idea of what's coming. Then, when they get all the onboarding, they're not overwhelmed and freaking out about “Now I have six different things to do.” You kind of plant the seed and explain it.

RW: The beauty about a private podcast is that it can be very small in nature. With a regular public podcast, you may not want to publish an episode that's only four minutes long, but if you're using it in a private nature, then you can do whatever you want, really. In the case that I just mentioned as far as onboarding, you can have a series of 10 four-minute episodes just to give your client a view of what's to come.

RW: You can use it along the same lines as a brand story. If you have a brand new business, and you want to launch and you don't want to do the public, you could do a lead magnet, or you could do something to existing audience for a brand story or a rebrand. A private podcast is fantastic to use if you are changing things up and rebranding because that can be along with a nice video or something, then you drop the link for that feed, and there's the story behind the rebrand.

RW: Then, the other thing that's become really popular since the global pandemic is using private podcasts as a way to communicate with your remote team. Instead of adding emails to inboxes, that was a way and that is still a way that a lot of small to very large companies and B2B and B2C companies are using to communicate to their team. There are three examples right off the bat. There are many more, a lot, but those are the three most common and the most trendy that I see right now.

JR: Got it. Thank you. Yeah, the idea of using a private podcast as a lead magnet, marketing expert as I am, that blew my mind when you first mentioned that; that hadn't even occurred to me. But now that you say it, it makes a lot of sense.

RW: Yeah, and the thing about that is you could curate it, like, you literally can have five different little private podcast feeds for five different arms of your marketing.

JR: Oh, absolutely. I'm starting to now kind of see all these different uses. One of the things that I heard you mention briefly, when we're talking about podcasts, public podcasts, specifically, a lot of podcasts are either infinite, so they're always putting out new episodes, or they're doing it in seasons, but they don't have a clear end point at which they're going to stop putting out episodes when it's complete. Some serial podcasts do; when the story's over, the podcast’s over. Then, there's other podcasts that are more finite, like those serials, for example.

JR: I'm also seeing that divide when we're talking about private podcasts as well. For onboarding, in that use case, it might be 10 episodes, and then that's it. You only really go in and edit or add new episodes when you need to. Whereas, using a private podcast as, say, part of your email newsletter or part of your ongoing team communications, that's more ongoing. So, it's not just public versus private, but also this “How many episodes? And when is it done? And is it ever done?” That can vary, it sounds like.

RW: Absolutely, absolutely. Those are great examples. Yes, the onboarding, the beauty is, let's say, for example, we do have those 10 episodes that we're using for client onboarding. If we change the system we're using, like, let's say we're using a different CRM or a different project manager system or something. If you're doing small, little snippets, then it's perfect because you could just take out the one that refers to the other system and put in what you're using now. But yes, you could also look at it as company XYZ is using it for their onboarding, and that can be a series of episodes, but you can do another series, and still continue along that same private podcast and do another series on nurturing them for retention. So you could still add to it, but they could be different chapters, for lack of better words.

JR: Absolutely, and I'm curious about what private podcasts are replacing. What I mean by that is, say that I'm using a private podcast to add to my regular, say, weekly email newsletter, or I am using a private podcast as my weekly update for my team. What role does attention play in that? I'm thinking about how people get an email, they just skim through it, they probably don't read the whole thing. How would that change if you use a private podcast instead of a text-based email?

RW: Absolutely. So, right off the bat, you can maybe have less meetings because if it's something in a communication that you could just do quickly on a Monday morning and just say, “Hey, team. This is what's going on this week,” that can lessen the amount of emails and communication that you have with your team. I'm certainly not saying to remove communication, but it may lessen; it may take away a meeting and may take away four emails. 

RW: So, going in with the intention of a goal, am I, let's say, for the team example, am I communicating what's going on this week, or am I communicating something in place of a meeting? Or is it just “This is what's coming up. We have a launch next week. This is what we need to tackle. Look out for all the updates in our project management system,” that type of thing? It can be inspirational. There are a lot of teams that are remote, so you don't really have that water cooler talk, so it can even be something fun, where it has nothing to do with business, but it has something to do with building your team and keeping your team together and that team feeling, even though you're not in the same building.

JR: Yeah, and I'm thinking about how podcasts or just that audio format, in general, may hold people's attention for a little longer, rather than maybe reading the first few lines of an email and then skimming the rest or not even reading the rest. It's a lot easier to grab someone's attention when you're literally speaking directly into their ears, rather than when you're sending them some text to read, obviously not in place of that communication, but just as a way to really boost how many people are actually consuming what you're putting out there.

RW: Absolutely, and I certainly don't want to promote people listening to work-related things all hours of the night and days when they're off, but what this can do is change your work culture. You could actually put in place a work culture for your team that says, “20 minutes before you take a lunch break, I want you to turn off your computer (depending on what the access is to the private podcast), you're going to turn off your work email and all the things, and you're going to listen to the podcast.” Have a have a behavior, a routine, set up for your team, that every—whatever day you want to send it—Monday between 11:30 and 12:00, you're going to turn off your screen, turn off your email, put on Do Not Disturb on Slack or whatever you're using, and consume the company podcast, the internal podcast.

JR: Yes, I can definitely see how that would change the company's culture pretty dramatically, pretty quickly.

RW: Absolutely. I have a client that I worked with that did a private podcast, and they are continuing to do it, where it's every Friday, and it's a wrap-up for the week. They mentioned the wins for the week, they mentioned the challenges for the week, they mentioned the brick format—What do you need support with? What did you win? Those types of things. Just a little inspiration kickoff for the weekend. Every Friday—I don't know what time they send it out—but every Friday, it's sent out to everybody in the company, and it's just “This is what we did. Here are our rock stars. Have an amazing weekend.” It might be a quote or some type of inspirational mantra or something, and that's how they end their week. I think that's just fantastic, and it's not another email to read.

JR: Now, this is obviously before my time, but I'm reminded of this pre-email concept of the office memo that comes from your manager or your director. That was the way that mass office communication occurred, and then email replaced that in some ways, but it lost that cohesive communication aspect. So, in this use case of a private podcast or anything, I would say it's a full circle back to that office-wide memoranda.

RW: Right, and not because of the separation of your inbox. Now, again, the platform you use depends on how it's delivered to your team, or your customers, or your clients. There are platforms out there that give you an RSS feed, even though it's a private RSS feed, and that is what somebody clicks on, and they can listen to it inside a player. But there are other platforms that deliver it in a different way. There are other platforms that actually give you an RSS feed, and it opens up the player at the hosting site for that feed. There are different ways of deliverability, and there are also companies out there that are doing it for the small business owner, the solopreneur. But there are also companies that are doing it for bigger teams and bigger businesses.

JR: Got it. Yeah, absolutely. I'm curious because I know one of the big things with a lot of coaches and consultants is they have some sort of online training aspect of the way that they work with their clients, and this can similarly be online training for their team as well. For example, I have this online training portal that has a ton of really amazing and awesome training videos, but they’re videos, so one thing I have been considering is how I could leverage that audio-only format, maybe not to replace the videos, but to supplement them and to make them a little bit more consumable on the go. Is that something you've seen done much before?

RW: Absolutely, just the way you described it, as far as taking content that's already there and creating it into a nice, more presentable audio form. Instead of sending somebody a whole bunch of links of just the audio or dropping just the audio in a Google Drive, there's a different way to present it. On a private podcast, you can make the podcast cover art and everything. You could even make a nice web page that shows up, or just use the podcast cover art and think of something creative and nice.

RW: But in addition to that, here's another content idea: still create that content and put it in a podcast version, but add special episodes that are just for people in your space. You can introduce a couple and then add commentary, or add updates, or do something to add to what's already in there.

JR: Yep, absolutely. It sounds like we're both on the same page in that we're not talking about ripping the audio off of those training videos and calling those podcast episodes, right?

RW: Correct.

JR: Because that is something that I have been very tempted to do in the past, and then I saw someone, a large marketing figure in our world, who did exactly that. He took the audio from his videos, just ripped the audio from that, and called it a private podcast. Except what he did was send you an actual physical mp3 player with it on there, and it just came across as lazy to me because you're hearing him say things, you're listening to it, hearing him say things like, “...and if you look at this diagram I'm drawing right now.” It's like, well, no, this is an audio only, so that doesn't necessarily make sense to just take the shortest route and take that shortcut.

RW: Right, but do keep in mind that if you want to do an approach like that, there are platforms that will work like that. They're there. There's one platform that I know of where you can actually do a private podcast feed within their platform, and it allows you to create a chat in there; it allows you to put PDFs; it allows you to throw Word documents, so it's much more of an interactive platform than it is just a listening platform. Of course, I would still recommend thinking of different ways to refresh that content, but if it is a lesson, and you do want to show graphics, there are platforms that allow you to have supporting things like a PDF and Word Docs and chats, even within your private podcast.

JR: Oh, wow. I had no clue that existed. That's really handy.

RW: Yes, so can I go ahead and mention the platform?

JR: Oh, please.

RW: My Soundwise app, that platform is amazing. I think it originally came out for authors, but it is so unique. One: It’s truly private, so it's not like other platforms that are strictly giving you an RSS feed that you can copy and paste, and put in a main player. It is not that. That technique does not allow for complete security of that private feed. This is different. My soundwise app—everything is contained in their own app, and you have to download the app. So there is an additional step of downloading the app versus sticking an RSS feed in your player, but it has chat, it has PDFs, it has Word Documents, it has action items, where you can ask people to take action and do homework and come back and comment. It's like a learning management system. It's like a course platform, but it's an audio private podcast platform. It kind of marries the both of them.

JR: Got it. Okay. Yeah. It sounds, like you said, a lot like, say, Kajabi or Teachable, but we're really around audio instead of video.

RW: Right, right. So, it's not going to have the modules of big lessons. It's going to have chapters of audio content, and within that chapter, it's supporting information.

JR: Okay, got it. I want to return to this idea of a private podcast as a lead magnet. Do you have any kind of examples you could tell us about, or can you talk a little bit more about what that could look like?

RW: Sure. I have seen people in the space use it as—something along their content—”Here's a new private podcast series that I'm doing based on my last launch.” Let's say you're a coach, and you're teaching people how to launch. You could do a breakdown of your last launch, and that could be for new clients, new people in your space, to know how you're doing things. It could be a behind-the-scenes, even though it's audio only. It can be a behind-the-scenes of what you do to create XYZ.

RW: It could also be just a series of private coaching calls that some people would never hear, but a couple clients have agreed that you can share it on a private podcast feed, so people can get an idea of what it's like to work with you. There really are a lot of different options. The most popular one I'm seeing is just introducing a new series about something that aligns with your content and your services and what you do, and creating almost like a book or that type of thing. Instead of having a checklist of “Here's the PDF with 15 things,” here's a private podcast with those same 15 things, but it's 15 little episodes.

JR: Got it. It sounds like not just putting it behind a paywall, but like an email opt-in, right.

RW: Exactly. 

JR: Okay. Like I said, now you're really getting my gears turning. I’m thinking, Okay, as soon as we're done with this conversation, I'm going to go do a whole bunch of research and figure out how to do this. It sounds great.

RW: I think it's just unique, and it's the sign of the times. Each year, we get all the stats, as far as how many millions of people are tuning into audio content. There really are endless possibilities with a private podcast feed; there are so many different things you can do. If it's something that's evergreen, then truly, the possibilities are endless.

RW: But on a lot of these platforms, you could actually have an end date. So, if you know that it's just to promote this summit…That's another lead magnet, to promote a summit and then you get people to sign on. Have a mini series of four episodes talking about the summit, talking about who's coming. Even have your guests do a little 30-second audio clip, and put that in a series of three private podcasts, and then on the last one is the invitation to join. I think it's a way to warm people up, and then you can go from a warm audience, or cold to warm, to buying the VIP upgrade of that same summit because you've given them enough information before it starts.

JR: Okay, yeah, that makes perfect sense. You mentioned something just a second ago that I want to circle back to. You said that, as we keep seeing the numbers, we see that the number of people who are tuning in to audio content is continuing to rise up. Could you say a little bit more about that because, personally, I don't listen to a whole lot of podcasts or audio content, so I'm curious to hear what those trends are and where it's headed.

RW: Yeah, so it's continuously increasing as far as the people that are listening. I don't know the exact number, but there are just increases every year of the listeners. These are the public RSS feeds because we can't really get the data from the private. These are the big players, the big public RSS feeds. But what's also happening is that there are less active podcasters. So, the trend is going up, but out of the two-point-something million podcasts out there, there are approximately 500,000 that are active, and that number is probably even less right now.

RW: There's a substantial podfade rate. Podfade is when you start a podcast, and you stop it without explanation. You started it, you did it, you got to Episode 27, you're like “This is way too much work, too much editing, too much workflow,” and then you just end it without telling people. That's technically the official podfade description. So, I definitely think audio content is still good, but I also think, because of the podfade, a private podcast is a way to do a podcast without committing to a podcast.

JR: That makes perfect sense. I got a notification, I think a month ago or so, that this podcast is in the top 10% of all podcasts. I don't have a million downloads every month. It's really just the fact that my podcast is still active; that, in and of itself, puts me in the top 10%.

RW: Right, and keep in mind that that top percent is like 1%. 1% of podcasts get those types of numbers, and out of the 1% that get those types of numbers, I would guess that 98% of them have huge sponsors behind them, so don't ever relate your indie podcast to anybody who has sponsors of any size, to be honest with you, big sponsors.

RW: One of my biggest pet peeves of the podcast industry is that indie podcasters like myself and you are being compared, when it comes to numbers and sponsorships, are being compared to the Brené Browns and the other big names. It makes no sense. I honestly believe we need to separate the two, and indie podcasters need to be the true indie podcasters. For me, I would like to say that if you have sponsorships of $100,000 or more, then you need to be in a different category than anybody else.

JR: Oh, absolutely.

RW: I don't want to necessarily put down the number a lot. Anyone listening that is considering a podcast and gets discouraged by seeing these big things, don't do that. Don't look at the big names. Don't look at the chart. A lot of the charts that you see on the players are those big names. There are some little ones sprinkled in, but to be a true indie podcaster is a completely different ball game than what you see on the majority of the players.

JR: Yeah, thank you for that distinction because that's not one that I had really considered at all prior to this moment. I really appreciate that. One of the best pieces of advice when I got started with my podcast, and I think this ties in really nicely with this conversation, was don't even look at the numbers; just focus on putting out good content.

JR: I will say, I didn't follow that advice, and I still don't follow that advice perfectly because I do look at the numbers to see, okay, if this episode got twice as much engagement and twice as many downloads, I probably need to create more content like that. I do look at the numbers in that regard. But it was really about not getting discouraged, seeing that you're putting out all these episodes, and you're not necessarily getting as many downloads as one of those high-ticket sponsored podcasts.

RW: Right, and it's unfortunate that when you're new to podcasting, you're looking at those big numbers, and you’re envisioning them, and of course there are so many creators out there that are promising you a certain number of downloads in 30 days and all of the other BS that you see the ads for on Facebook and everything. Turn those off. You could actually turn off ads like that, so turn those off.

RW: Think of it like a lot of advice for email marketing. If you send out an email and you have a list of 20—let's start really small—and 10 people opened it. Well, that's like having a party and having 10 people in your house, and that's 10 people more today than yesterday. If you aren't going to look at your numbers, look at it that way. I think one of my mentors, years ago, used to say, “Well, that means 10 people are sitting in your living room,” especially when it comes to podcasting, because it's so intimate. Those are like 10 people sitting at your dinner table.

RW: That's extraordinary for someone who's creating a podcast, sitting in your office space at home, or sitting in your closet. A lot of people do their podcast recording in their actual closet for their clothes. That's a great place to record, by the way. Think of it that way. I don't know, do you want another 10 people in your closet with you? That's a good way to look at it, just one person listening to you. I tend not to look at the numbers, but I do look at feedback. That is my juice to continue, when I get feedback, saying, “This resonated with me,” or, “I felt like you were talking to me,” or you read a review that literally was spot-on the mission you had for that episode. I think that's more important.

JR: Oh, exactly. I have a good friend who is in the process of starting his own business, a really good friend. We've been friends since we were in high school together. He messaged me the other day, and he said, “Wow, I've been listening to your podcast every single day. It's really hitting home, and I love it,” and just that one piece of feedback from someone I know and love was really amazing for me. I was like, yeah, okay, I'm on the right track. I'm doing this thing, and I'm going to keep on going.

RW: Right. Can you imagine being part of someone's daily routine? I think that's epic.

JR: Exactly. It blows my mind.

RW: I love that. I love that, and that's a great little tidbit to remember. I think when you set out to do something, and you're getting feedback, and you're really staying true to why you did it, the passion, that's going to keep you going. It's the other stuff that causes people to podfade.

RW: The private podcast is a perfect way for someone who's thinking about wanting to do a podcast. They can do it as a private podcast and do it as a lead magnet or something for their clients first, and just see if they like it. There's less commitment. With a private podcast, like you were saying earlier, there's no plan for more; there's no Season Two, so it's a perfect way to get your feet wet and figure out “Do I really like this?” You may find out that you like the private podcast type of thing more than you do considering doing a public one with a public RSS feed.

JR: Yep, absolutely. Personally, I love those micro commitments, the “Let me just do a really smaller, or a much more finite, version of this, just to see if I like it.” There's no pressure to take it in a different direction or to scale or anything else. It's just “Let me see how I enjoy it.”

RW: And traditionally, a private podcast does not have to be as edited as a public one. Obviously, you know, with a public one, I'm still Team No Edit because I really don't believe in the very curated and very edited and very perfect type of content. That's not where I come from. For me, I don't edit anyway. Now I do because I have a team helping me with my new podcast, but my previous podcast that is on hiatus I don't edit. I just talk, and if I sneeze, I sneeze. If the birds are screaming, the birds are screaming. But the private podcast is a little bit more casual and a little less perceived that it's going to be highly edited. So, it is, again, a perfect way to give it a try without committing to a big public podcast.

JR: Yeah, and I love that this ties directly back to your talking about a conversation with 10 people in your living room, right? If you're in your living room, you're going to sneeze, your birds are going to chirp, and that's part of what makes that experience so intimate.

RW: Right.

JR: Totally, totally related right there.

RW: That's what makes it so attractive to people. They click on that relatability.

JR: Yes. Oh, absolutely. As we're wrapping up, could you share for people who are listening, whether they're at home or driving or whatever, how can people connect with you and learn more about who you are and what you're doing?

RW: Thank you. The best way right now at the time of this episode is at Instagram, and I am at raphieknowspods, and that is my home base as I am revamping everything, I'm changing calendar platforms; I'm changing email platforms; I'm changing everything, so that's the best place as of right now.

JR: Perfect. Sounds good. I’ll go ahead and pop that link in the show notes below, so you can go find that pretty easily. Raphie, thank you so much for our conversation today. I really enjoyed it. I learned so, so much, and I definitely have next steps for what I am doing as soon as we end this call.

RW: That's awesome. Let me know. And if you're listening and you've created a private podcast, or if you have any questions, definitely hop on over to Instagram and let me know.

JR: Perfect. Well, thank you so much for joining us for this episode of Client Attractor. I'm your host, Jacob Ratliff, and I'll see you tomorrow for our next episode. Take care.

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