If you feel you don’t know enough about the topics you want to podcast about, you are in good company
Maria Failla began her podcast, Bloom & Grow Radio because she DIDN’T know enough about how to care for her plants and saw it as a great opportunity to talk to experts who did. And by the way, isn’t that a GREAT name for a podcast? It comes from a line in Maria’s favorite song from the musical, “The Sound of Music” – Edelweiss.
I was eager to talk with Maria about her journey because as a client, I’ve seen her go from almost no audience to an amazing following and enthusiastic membership community that’s quite astounding. The lessons she’s learned are ones any podcaster can benefit from, especially if you’re looking to serve your audience in bigger ways, build relationships with sponsors that benefit them long-term, and therefore, fuel your podcast, AND make your podcast a full-time living kind of thing eventually.
All of that is true of Maria and it just might be possible for you too. Give her a chance to convince you of what’s possible!
What you’ll learn from Maria’s story
- [2:32] Maria’s monetization story: Where she’s at now
- [4:32] Niche podcast ad sales | speaking opportunities | membership community
- [7:18] The wandering path: Why Maria thought 10 episodes would be it for her show
- [11:10] The first steps of monetization Maria started taking
- [14:35] How to leverage the power of the fact that you are your target listener
- [19:36] How to move affiliate relationships to sponsor partnerships
🚨 Set up a MEMBERSHIP for your podcast
In this episode, I mentioned that I have a very successful membership once your podcast is rolling. You’ll hear Maria speak about how she’s doing that if you listen (you ARE going to listen, right?).
I use a platform called Supercast, which I describe at the midpoint of this conversation. HERE IS MY AFFILIATE LINK to Supercast… and remember, if you use my link to sign up for Supercast, I’ll send you my “Supercast Walkthrough” video to help you get it set up and get started.
And to see how Supercast works, here is the link I share with my podcast listers that provides more information about my podcast partnership (what I call it instead of a “membership”): https://CareyGreen.com/partners
- [27:17] The membership Maria has created sounds amazing… she shares how you can build one too!
- [33:06] Premium tiers are coming to Maria’s membership… here’s how she’s setting it up
- [36:01] How Maria’s self-doubt and ignorance led her to a vulnerable approach to her topics (that has been SUPER successful)
- [38:10] Getting past the fear of asking people for money to support what you’re doing
- [42:01] Being friends with your sponsors removes the tension from the financial relationship and makes things more fun
- [44:51] Why “Bespoke” podcast ads are THE WAY TO GO with your sponsor relationships (it’s a game-changer for you and your sponsor)
If you’re not an expert in your niche, that may be an IDEAL reason to start a podcast
- Maria says that she never expected her podcast to get past 10 episodes. There were a handful of reasons for that but the main one was that she thought she would probably run out of questions and guests by then. But as she got into things, it became clear to her that not only did she have more and more questions as she went along, but the audience was benefitting greatly from the content she was producing.
- That led her to one of the key insights that have served her well throughout her podcasting journey…
Keep the audience in mind always. Serve them. Learn what they need and give it to them.
- When I heard Maria say that, it ran so many bells in my head (I hear bells often). She’s onto something that most of my successful clients have discovered as well. As a podcaster, you truly SHOULD BE IN IT FOR YOUR AUDIENCE first, and yourself secondarily.
- Maria’s novice status resonated with her audience and her journey became their journey. She discovered that she was her ideal target listener and that revelation helped her to serve them even better.
Affiliate sales may be the first place to start — but you have to do it right
- At the beginning, Maria had no ambition to monetize her show, but the monthly expenses of producing her show and providing resources to her listeners, though small, added up over time. So her first goal was to earn enough money from the show to cover the expenses. It wasn’t much, but it was enough that she was motivated.
- Her first monetization attempt, which continues in various forms to this day, was through Affiliate relationships. In short, it means you refer people to products and get paid by the people behind the product for doing so. It’s a referral fee, in essence. But she also learned that there are right ways and wrong ways to promote as an affiliate.
THE WRONG WAY TO PROMOTE AFFILIATE PRODUCTS:
- Promote anything that can make you money… and the bigger the payout percentage the better.
- Why is this the wrong way to go about affiliate partnerships? Because it violates the principle Maria learned at the beginning, it isn’t keeping your audience in mind. Remember, your audience listens to your show because they are interested in the TOPICS you cover. Your ideal affiliate products will connect to that reality in some way.
- Hawking anything that makes you money communicates loud and clear to your audience that they are a commodity you’re willing to take advantage of, not people you truly care about.
- Don’t make that mistake if you’re going to promote affiliate products.
THE RIGHT WAY TO PROMOTE AFFILIATE PRODUCTS
- In light of what I said in the previous point, find items or services you can believe in and genuinely recommend to your audience. This means you should find a way to try them out. From early on, Maria chose the products she would recommend to her audience from her own experience. She looked around her apartment and asked herself a key question, “Which things do I use regularly that I absolutely love?” THOSE were the things she chose to associate with as an affiliate.
- She was also careful to promote those products in a way that didn’t feel gross to her. She wanted to be enthusiastic about the products, not pushy, so she refused to use canned scripts provided by affiliates (or sponsors). She wrote them herself to maintain her own voice and excitement about the item or service.
- Listen to hear how she crafts “Bespoke” endorsements to this day, with the help of your sponsors (who she appropriately refers to as “partners”).
How to move your affiliate relationships to true sponsorships
- The products and services Maria promoted through affiliate relationships were the natural first option when it came to starting official sponsorships. She discovered that the track record she had with affiliate partners enabled her to build on the effectiveness of her promotions to pitch them sponsorship opportunities.
- At first, she had to work out the kinks regarding how to pitch them and what they were most interested in. But in the end, the fact that they both wanted the same thing (to help her audience through the products the affiliate had to provide) enabled them to come to terms and begin working at a bigger, more effective level.
- Maria’s lessons-learned are too varied and detailed for me to cover adequately here, so make sure you listen to hear how she made this transition, and the kinds of approaches she takes today to ensure her sponsors stay with her over the long haul (THIS PART is pure GOLD, don’t miss it).
The benefits of true sponsor RELATIONSHIPS (as friends, not just business associates)
- True product or service sponsorships are based on a trusting relationship. The sponsor has to know that you are as enthusiastic about their success as they are — and both of you need to be committed to driving that success for each other’s benefit. One example from Maria’s story that I thought was amazing is that her sponsors will sometimes call her up to ask about new products they are creating, new marketing plans they are considering, and she’s more than eager to help. She knows that the more she can help them, the more their products will help her listeners and the more beneficial that will be to everyone (her included).
- Maria’s sponsors have grown WITH her through the life cycle of her podcast. They have seen the ups and downs and since they’ve been along for the ride, they are committed to her success.
- First, because they like her and enjoy working with her. But additionally, because she makes them money and drives their success forward. There’s a legitimate REASON Maria refers to her sponsors as “Partners” — because that’s exactly what they are!
- I could tell you so much more about Maria’s endeavors… the Membership community she’s launched, the upcoming high-tier products and membership that she’s working on, and the motivation behind it all. But rather than typing it all out, you should hear it in her own voice. Click “play” and hear it in her own words.
Connect with Maria Failla (Bloom & Grow)
- Maria’s show: Bloom & Grow Radio (listen to a recent episode to hear how Maria does her ad spots)
- Maria on Instagram: @BloomandGrow
- Maria’s “Plant Parent Personality” assessment (DO IT if you’re into plants – or want to be)
- Maria’s YouTube channel
- Maria’s “Garden Party & Garden Society” membership community
Resources & people Maria mentioned
- Pat Flynn
- John Lee Dumas’ “Free Podcast Course” podcast
- Pat Flynn’s marketing course
- “What’s your ideal avatar” episode from John Lee Dumas
- Patreon – Maria has used and still uses this platform
- Mighty Networks (Maria uses this for her Membership community)
- Survey Monkey (Maria uses this for annual listener surveys)
- SolTech Solutions (one of Maria’s show sponsors)