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Season 02, Episode 18

The Process Of Building An Audience

with Host of Entrepreneurs on Fire, John Lee Dumas

About the Episode

In this episode, I chat with John Lee Dumas all about the process of building an audience. JLD is the host of Entrepreneurs on Fire, an award-winning podcast where he interviews entrepreneurs who are truly on fire. I was fortunate enough to be on his podcast, episode number 1921 so check that out.

He’s done over 2,500 episodes at this point. A million-plus listens a month, seven figures of annual revenue, so you’ve definitely heard of him and he’s just now getting started. So he tunes in from Puerto Rico in about a 15-minute quick episode, but he just delivers nugget after nugget of wisdom about how he built his podcasts initially grew the audience, continued to get big guests and then just runs it like a machine where he doesn’t have to think too much about it. So you can learn a lot from how he produces his podcast and how it applies to your business. Give it a listen.

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Full Transcript

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JLD:

Like most people when they start their podcast, they’re doing once a week. So how is anybody ever going to get good at doing something four times a month? Like can you show me any professional athlete or Olympic athlete that practices four days per month, they don’t exist and I knew that I was not going to be good. I knew that I was not natural. I knew that I had a long way to go, so I had to put in the reps and the only way for me to put in the reps, it was not to do four reps per month. It was to do 30 reps per month, 365 reps per year.

Chris:

What’s up, everyone? I’m Chris Ronzio, founder and CEO of Trainual and this is Process Makes Perfect as always, we’re talking with experts in process creation, automation, and delegation. Basically, the people that know how to make business easier. You just heard John Lee Dumas and this episode is all about the process of building an audience, which he’s done an amazing job at. JLD is the host of Entrepreneurs on Fire and award-winning podcast where he interviews Entrepreneurs who are truly on fire. I was fortunate enough to be on his podcast, episode number 1921 so check that out. He’s done over 2,500 episodes at this point. A million-plus listens a month, seven figures of annual revenue, so you’ve definitely heard of him, and he’s just now getting started. So he tunes in from Puerto Rico in about a 15-minute quick episode, but he just delivers nugget after nugget of wisdom about how he built his podcasts initially grew the audience, continued to get big guests, and then just runs it like a machine where he doesn’t have to think too much about it. So you can learn a lot from how he produces his podcast and how it applies to your business. Give it a listen.

Chris:

Hey there, and welcome to Process. Makes Perfect. I’m your host Chris Ronzio and as you heard in the intro today, we’re super lucky to be talking with JLD the man, John Lee Dumas. Thanks for being here, brother.

JLD:

Hey, I am fired up to be here. Thanks for having me. Let’s light this place on fire.

Chris:

Let’s do it. So as you know, this is all about process and today I want to talk about the process of building an audience, which you’ve done an incredible job at. So thank you for that. Now you were in the army, you just did the little salute. You were in the army for eight years, right?

JLD:

Eight years.

Chris:

I’m curious, what did that teach you about process? How did that carry into what you’re doing now?

JLD:

I mean the reality is this, not to be overly dramatic, but when it comes down to life and death, you figure out your processes, you figure out your systems, you figure out the automation that actually work. And for me, you know, being commissioned as an officer in 2002 it was life and death because I was commissioned, you know post 9/11 I went to war, I was in Iraq for 13 months. I was a tank commander in charge of 16 men in four tanks. So it was a real deal, Holy field type stuff, fo show. And guess what, for everything that we did, we had a system for everything we did. We had a process, you know whether it be when we’re about to turn the tank on, we need to make sure you know that there’s fuel there that we’re all amo’d up and everybody has the right equipment on.

You know that there’s plenty of room to back up. Like there’s a lot of different things that go into this like checklist. I mean, you know, I think probably one of the easier things that people can relate to is like an airline pilot. You know, they go through this long list of like this pre-check before they take off. The same thing was happening with me in the army as a tank commander, you know, there’s a lot of buttons to push, you know, there’s a lot of wrong buttons to push that could cause not just you know, like financial damage but like life and death damage. So it was a very quick awakening cause you know, for my four years as a college student, I didn’t have any systems or processes, just kind of woke up when I woke up, went to class, and I decided to go to class with the parties when I decided to go to parties. Becoming an officer in the army, changed all of that and I was able to kind of take those processes that I saw, you know, allow us to be the most successful and powerful army in the world and apply them to entrepreneurship.

Chris:

A lot of new entrepreneurs don’t have the same appreciation of standard operating procedures. But when you talk to a veteran or someone that’s served and thank you for that, there’s a difference that you light up in a different way because you know how valuable the systems are. So

JLD:

Yeah, and not just those SOPs like you’re talking about those standard operating procedures, but the after-action reviews, the AAR is like when you are finished with a mission, you never ever go anywhere before having one of those after-action reviews. So when I became an entrepreneur, it’s like, okay, every time the webinar was over Kate, let’s talk. What went wrong, what went right, how can we tweak and improve and adjust. So over time people are like, wow, your systems are amazing. And I’m like, yeah, like one tiny step at a time. They started terribly and then it got a little bit better every step of the way.

Chris:

I love that. I started blocking out a couple of hours every Friday to do a retro of the week. And it’s like a more macro version of that. But I love that you do that. Cool. So, so speaking of process, your show is more dialed in than any that I’ve ever been on. So how did you go from zero episodes when you were starting this thing to seven episodes a week and just this constant flow that seems to have never stopped.

JLD:

God, I mean not patting myself on the back, but my show is so dialed in. Sometimes I’m just like, it’s almost too easy. Like my show had just, it just runs itself. Like I feel like sometimes I’m just like this floating face that talks cause my show is just like so completely dialed in from day one or did you build a person? No, I was, it was a mess day one. You know, I had no idea what was going on. You know, the microphone is not plugged in, you know, pieces of paper everywhere. I didn’t even know my guests – like nothing. Like it was a disaster. But again, it was every step of the process. And now I have people on my show, and they’re like, you have literally ruined me for other podcasts because the prep that you give me before the show goes live.

JLD:

The actual execution of the show itself, the post-production of the show with my reminders and my followups, it’s so dialed in. And guess what? I don’t lift a finger for any of that because it’s been created and crafted over the years. Well, it’s awesome that you did that. And it’s also a lesson in time management I think because you tend to batch those together, don’t you? How, how does that work? So once a month, I have one day where I do eight episodes for entrepreneurs on fire. Once a month I have one day where I do 20 interviews on other shows. Interestingly enough, you are my first interview of 20 today. 

Chris:

Alright, cool. Thanks for starting your day off strong. So, so in terms of the daily consistency, I mean, how important was that to building the audience initially? Do you think it was different?

JLD:

It was everything. And the reason why it was important, um, is multifold but I’ll kind of start with some of the things that I know were critical for me. Guess what? Like every other human being that ever started a podcast, I was bad episode one but like mostly 

Chris:

I got to say I just pulled up episode one to listen to it and it was still decent. Like it was still good. It’s changed a lot slower. 

JLD:

I am like, you know, so stuck in like the process that I had, like the questions I had, like somebody would say something funny like I wouldn’t even respond to it cause I was so dialed into like listening or like to like what I was going to say next. So like there was no natural flow. Like he would just say some incredibly poignant points that I wouldn’t even talk about.

I would just riff over to the next question. Like I was steamrolling things. I mean like again like I go back and listen to them now, like with the 2,573 episodes that I’ve now produced and I’m like, Oh my God, who was that human being? But of course, you know we all start there, and guess what? Like most people when they start their podcasts, they’re doing it once a week, so how is anybody ever going to get good at doing something four times a month? Like can you show me any professional athlete or Olympic athlete, the practices, four days per month, they don’t exist and I knew that I was not going to be good. I knew that I was not natural. I knew that I had a long way to go so I had to put in the reps and the only way for me to put in the reps was not to do four reps per month. It was to do 30 reps per month, 365 reps per year. That’s how I took that next step. That’s how I got my processes dialed in because instead of just having four after-action reviews a month, I was having 30 after-action reviews a month and improving every single time.

Chris:

Yeah. I want to double-tap on like the thing you just said there because it is so important getting reps for people and anyone that’s listening, if podcasting is not your thing, like whether it’s blog posts or IGTV or TikTok videos, like the more consistency that you’re putting out there into the world, the better you’re going to get at it. And I know for me, I sucked at the beginning, but like the reason you do it out of the Gates is more for practice, right?

JLD:

Got to put in the reps. It’s all about the practice. That’s why one of the top recommendations I give to people in podcasts is paradise. To say, Hey, like you’re in prelaunch mode right now. Go to podcasters paradise in our Facebook group and just say, Hey, anybody wants to practice their interviews today? I’ll interview you. We’ll take a break, have a chuckle. You interview me. It’s not going to be air second go live, but we’re practicing. It’s like, why do people think that like they have to start practicing on live actual people that they’re hopefully trying to impress. Like I, you know, failed multiple times with some of these big interviews. Like having Seth Godin on before I was good, having Tim Ferriss on, Gary Vaynerchuk. Like, you know, they left those interviews like, Ooh, that guy’s got a little ways to go.

And like those are missed opportunities because like if I could’ve come in and wow them and really knock their socks off, then like I could have potentially been building relationships at a quicker pace and they would’ve been a much more likely to share the interview when it went live because instead of like some amateur hour dude, just like trying to, you know, force an interview through actually having an amazing high-quality episode. Now Tim Ferriss is going to share it with his massive audience and Gary Vaynerchuk is like, those are missed opportunities. So lucky for me back in 2012 there were just so few podcasts that were doing that. They were interviewing entrepreneurs, but I was able to get away with it. But you just can’t get away with it these days. You like, you have these opportunities and these chances to really practice and hone your skills.

I’m not saying like delay your loss until you’re perfect. I’m a big believer in getting that show up there and launching, but Hey, don’t just like only do interviews that you’re going to be doing live like practice. Just like again, I’m going to go back to athletes because it’s a great analogy. It’s like every athlete puts in 10 times the amount of hours in practice that they put into a game because you know there are 80 NBA games a year. You know, that’s how many hours is that? I don’t know, like maybe an hour actually on the court of actual playing time. Right? That’s 80 hours. Like, think about how many hours they’re practicing. It’s, it’s mental.

Chris:

Yeah, and that applies. I think that practice and process back and forth applies to anything in business because you spend so much time doing the work, but if you can’t step back and practice how you’re doing the work or like you said, analyze after the fact how you did, you’re not going to make things better. So I mean it’s amazing that you did that. Now the big people you got on the show, you had some big names out of the gates, like did, was it easier back then to reach to people or did

JLD:

One hundred times easier. So I did have a process which I’ll share and it’s, it’s still applicable today for sure. But it was also much easier because again, the world needed more podcasts, interviewing entrepreneurs and the world definitely needed a podcast doing it daily because there just wasn’t enough content out there in that medium and that form. And so entrepreneurs on fire fit that I should say, filled that void. And so one of the systems that I use that is still absolutely applicable today is you have to realize that there are certain times in certain seasons that individuals go through promotion modes. They’re launching a book, they’re releasing a course. They’re, you know, releasing a piece of software. They’re promoting something on their own. They’re going to be in a much more promotion mode during those times. So I was patient and I waited, and guess what, Tim Ferriss was just, you know, a NASA, he was coming out with a book.

JLD:

So I had waited until I heard that. Then I went to him and said, Tim, you’re launching a book. You know, it’d be perfect for my audience, which is built up of entrepreneurs. I’d love to have you on. Same thing with Gary and jab, jab, jab, right hook. So I think it was Seth Godin, and this is marketing. Like he was coming out like I was being very strategic, and I was going to them and saying, listen, I know you’re trying to get the word out on these things. Let me help you. And since they were already in promotion mode committed to that they were willing to do it. Yes, you timed it perfectly. That’s, that’s great. So if you can plan around the guest’s schedule instead of what you want, it’s easier to get the guests and for your dream guests like just have patients cause like it’s going to happen.

JLD:

It’s just a matter of when. And then during the interim, you know, practice get better, become better at your craft. 

Chris:

Now for you, it was a seven-day thing that was different. What about for someone starting today? Is there anything you’re recommending that you think there’s a void in the market? 

JLD:

Yeah, just like I did, which was avoid the market, which is I did something nobody was doing, which is a seven-day week podcast. Guess what? That made me the best daily podcast from day one. It also made me the worst daily podcast from day one. It made me the only daily podcast from day one. So one thing that I’m screaming from the rooftops to people is you need to niche, you need to niche down into one specific solution. To one real problem. That’s what your podcast should be. It should be one specific solution to one real problem.

JLD:

That’s your chance to be the best in show in that specific niche on that specific topic. And guess what? You don’t have to stay there forever. Once you get momentum you can broaden out. But for now, if you have any chance of standing out, if you have any chance of getting any initial momentum and traction, you have to be unique. You have to stand for something, you have to fill a void that’s not being filled. So niche down from your topic until you look around and say, well, there’s either no competition or the competition at this level sucks. I can dominate. So one solution for one problem. Of course, ours

Chris:

is process. I appreciate all the tips you’ve given. Just to recap for the audience, find a niche, find a need just like he found with the seven-day daily podcast. Practice consistency. Get your reps in, do constant AR and review what you’ve done so you can improve your process and then time your audience and your guests with the seasons of promotion. So JLD. What do you want to promote? Where can people find you?

JLD:

All the magic for me at eofire.com we have a ton of free courses over there on podcasting, on funnels, on coming up with your big idea. It’s free. It’s for you, eofire.com and of course, my podcast is entrepreneurs on fire. Give it a listen.

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