Arielle Nissenblatt's podcast journey started with a newsletter and a call to Dan Franks and Jared Easley, the co-founders of Podcast Movement. Since then she has grown the Ear Buds Collective Newsletter, joined the team at Squadcast as Community Manager, and is now creating social media content at Sounds Profitable and co-hosting the flagship show with Bryan Barletta.
Arielle Nissenblatt's podcast journey started with a newsletter and a call to Dan Franks and Jared Easley, the co-founders of Podcast Movement. Since then she has grown the Ear Buds Collective Newsletter, joined the team at Squadcast as Community Manager, and is now creating social media content at Sounds Profitable and co-hosting the flagship show with Bryan Barletta.
In this episode, you will hear how Arielle discovered that she was a better learner via audio than visual. how radio was her first audio love growing up on 107.1 The Peak in New York's Hudson Valley, how she got involved with a very popular podcast creation tool in Squadcast, and with podcasting's leading business think tank in Sounds Profitable. You will be able to meet Arielle in person at Podcast Movement which is taking place August 23-26 in Dallas.
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Tara Sands (VO) 00:00:01
The Sound Off Podcast. The podcast about broadcast with Matt Cundill starts now.Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:11
If you've meandered through podcast circles, you might have seen the name Arielle Nissenblatt. If podcasting were a university, she would have been a part of every club and showed up at every party. I first connected to her newsletter, the Earbuds Collective, and later spoke to her again as the community manager at Squadcast. And then she started the Podcast Taxonomy, which I was a contributor to, and now she's at Sounds Profitable, which the Soundoff Media Company has been a sponsor of in the past. She's co hosting the Sounds Profitable podcast with Brian Barletta, and she joins me from her home in New York City. You're obsessed with podcast. How does one become obsessed with podcasts?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:00:51
Learning that I am an auditory learner was a big part of that. I, for a while, struggled with just sitting and staring at a board. Growing up and learning that that was not the norm all over the world, I think, helped me to realize that podcasts were an alternative way for me to consume. I don't read a lot. When I am given a book or given an article, I avoid. And if I have to read it, it has to be extremely enticing and written for the ear, basically, in order for me to consume it well. And at first I was mad at myself for that. I was like, Why am I not a reader? Why can't I sit down and read a book? Why can't I sit down and read an article? And now I just realized that's okay, and I can consume the same content through my ears.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:01:35
Were you ever obsessed with another type of audio medium?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:01:38
I like some radio stations a lot. I'm obsessed with 107.1 The Peak, WXPK, Briarcliffe Manor, White Plains. That's the whole call station. It's a great indie music station that also does like events and has birthday parties. It's an independent radio station. I love it. I also loved 100.5 The Drive in Binghamton, New York. But I didn't really think about radio critically. I just enjoyed it passively.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:02:04
So I'll imagine that you were raised on radio. My geography may not be perfect with this because my only experience with this area is Interstate 87 between Montreal and New York City. But I'm guessing it's White Plains, Hudson Valley, whereabouts?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:02:18
That's correct, yeah. White Plains is just north of Manhattan. It's about 30 miles north of Manhattan, maybe 22 miles. I always mix it up.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:02:26
What were your first experiences with radio?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:02:29
Trying to think back to something more. I remember loving The Peak, this is 107.1, since high school. It's the kind of radio station that every time you turn it on, you're like, wow, they get it right every single time. Like every song, you're like, they pulled that out of nowhere. And yet it is perfect for this moment right now.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:02:46
What did everyone else at high school listen to on the radio?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:02:46
Z100, 103, or 92.3. Those are like the hit radio stations, which of course I would listen to as well. But The Peak is just perfect.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:02:59
You did some studying in South Africa. What did you study in South Africa?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:03:03
I went on a trip end of my sophomore year of college with the geography department, which I was studying geography, love geography to this day, to Botswana. So we flew into South Africa, and then we actually drove into Botswana. We just spent one night in Johannesburg, but then Botswana for about three weeks. And we were studying sort of the difference between the urban and rural divide of Botswana. So we hung out in some of the cities, but then we also mostly spent time in villages and smaller towns talking to people. In my area of interest within geography was population and growth and also migration patterns. And so this was sort of on that path, but also sort of just an excuse to go to Botswana.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:03:48
What was your first podcast experience? When did you first discover it and what did you listen to?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:03:53
I remember, in college, one of my professors saying that he uploaded his geography lectures to iTunes University. And I was like, that's interesting. I'm going to check that out. But I did not think of that as a podcast. I don't even know if technically it's considered a podcast. Do you know about that? Is it on the RSS situation?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:04:12
iTunes University is something that sits on my phone and I've never touched it.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:04:17
Yeah, I haven't touched it since 2014. But in 2014, I think I listened to a few lectures, and it wasn't made for audio. He didn't translate his visual lectures to audio. He just took the audio and hoped that people would tune in as an extra curricular, basically. So I don't really count that as a podcast. But I remember I moved to Mississippi after college. I worked at a Jewish nonprofit in Jackson, and my roommate listened to a lot of podcasts. And at first it pissed me off because she was the kind of podcast listener where she would put it on full blast in the kitchen while she was like, chopping up her dinner. And I was like, okay, you need to be wearing headphones. This is ridiculous. But then I started listening. I started hearing the stories, and I was like, damn, I need to know more about that. And then I think it was like Radio Lab and 99% Invisible, some of those, like, pretty mainstream shows. But this was 2014, so it was like they've been going on for a while at that point. But still, I don't think podcast had boomed yet because this was before serial. Then serial came out and my whole office was listening to serial, having water cooler moments. And I refused to listen alongside them because I was like some annoying overgrown teenager who was like, I don't want to participate in the things that everybody else is participating in. Why would I ever ingratiate myself with the community? That sounds ridiculous. And then I listened and I was like, Oh, I get it now. And then I completely like, I ate crow, if that's the phrase. And I was like, you guys are right. Serial is amazing. Let's talk about it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:05:42
Is it still considered to be very poor form to crank your podcast so that everybody can hear it?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:05:49
I think so. Sometimes if my AirPods die and I'm on the subway, I listen out loud, but I put it up to my ear like it's a phone call so that other people can't hear it. I even think it's rude to put music out loud. It's like, I didn't ask for this to be in my airspace.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:06:03
Yeah, FaceTime out loud. Although there is a little karma with it because I saw somebody at the airport was listening to Sex with Emily and it was a good part. And they were standing at airport security and all sorts of odd words came out of the phone.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:06:16
Oh, interesting. For those purposes, I'm fine with it because it's like, okay, if we can get podcast to more people, lovely.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:06:23
Tell me about starting the Earbuds Collective and why you started it.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:06:26
I moved from Jackson, Mississippi to Los Angeles in the fall of 2016 and was stuck in traffic all the time. But I was listening to podcasts because I had recently discovered them through Serial and then went on a rampage. I forgot to say- my first job after college in Jackson, we would travel to different synagogues throughout the south, and if they were less than 8 hours of a drive away, we would drive it. So I got really good at driving long distances, and part of that was due to podcasts. I would put on a podcast and be able to just go for 5 hours. I was very good at it. I remember one particular stretch, I think I drove all the way from Hot Springs, Arkansas, back to Jackson. No stops. I had a great car at the time. I think it was the Nissan Versa Note. I remember things like this. It's just a fast car that had really good gas mileage. And I don't remember what podcast I listened to, but I remember I listened all the way through. And that drive was powered by whatever podcast that was. So I got really good at driving, got really good at listening to podcasts in the car. And when I got to LA, I was commuting a lot and listening to podcasts and thinking, I want to constantly have my mind blown by podcasts. How do I make sure that happens? Every single car ride that I take, you know, not just like every once in a while where I'm like, Oh, that was a good episode. I want, that was an amazing episode. That was required listening. Every single episode. So I thought, let me ask my friends what podcasts are blowing their mind, and then they can ask their friends what podcasts are blowing their mind. And then we can start a newsletter where we share our favorite podcast episodes. So that's kind of the origin story.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:07:57
So one of my discoverability techniques is to read the Earbuds Collective. But what are your discoverability techniques? Like, how do you go out and find the things that you want to find?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:08:08
That's a good question because until recently it was just newsletters. I subscribe to as many podcast recommendation newsletters as I can find. And if you run a podcast recommendation newsletter that I don't know about, I want to know about it. I want to know what's being curated out there. For a while, it was just that I would open up an email, I would open up my phone at the same time, open up the email, read the email, see what got me excited, and then I would go over to my podcast listening app of choice, and then I would plug in that podcast, subscribe to it, or listen to an episode and decide if I wanted to subscribe to it. That was it until about a month and a half ago. So you're catching me at a time where I've recently changed sort of my discoverability technique. I have recently become curious about how Apple's New and Noteworthy functions and how not just Apple, but also Castbox, also Stitcher. Also I've been hanging out on Good Pods. I've been hanging out on Spotify even. That's a very new one. I was not doing that until recently. And Pocket Cast. So those are the main apps that I visit once a day. I check each of them and I try to see what is trending. I try to see what's being chosen for the carousels or the featured segments. And I click on a few things, listen, decide if I want to continue listening. But this all started because I was really curious about how Apple selects their New and Noteworthy. And I know there's a form that you can fill out to try to get your podcast featured on New and Noteworthy. It actually happened to me once with a podcast that I ran. Very interesting. I can go into that if you're curious. But for the most part it's a lot of podcasts that have connections to bigger organizations like NPR, BBC, or CBC or lots of different production houses that are well known, and every once in a while they'll throw in an indie podcast. So I was just curious, are the shows that get selected actually great? So I've been listening to them and kind of commenting on them on Twitter over the past month or so, and that kind of made me think about what other podcast apps are featuring and why they're featuring those. So now I'm very curious about the home pages of podcast listening apps. And if they are not independent. If there are these big network shows, are those big network shows actually very good? A lot of the time they are. So that's sort of how I've been discovering lately. And then of course, I still read podcast recommendation newsletters. I still listen to podcasts about podcasts and that's what it's been like for the past few months.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:10:31
So I guess this is a good time to ask you, because you're diving into New and Noteworthy in Apple. It used to be that you would hit the subscribe button on there and then those that got a lot of subscriptions, the algorithm would sort of weave the podcast into New and Noteworthy. But all that's changed, there's forms to fill out. You have to get the attention of Apple and it becomes a bit of a part of the marketing strategy. And you do have to let them know you're releasing your podcast about three or four weeks in advance before getting it out there. But what else have you discovered about New and Noteworthy and how it's operating inside Apple these days?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:11:02
Yeah, one of the biggest revelations for me was realizing that subscriptions, ratings, and reviews don't actually do anything for the algorithm anymore. I think that was debunked in 2017. I don't know even if before that it was a thing, but I know that there's literature out there that says- literature. There's blog posts out there that says that that's not a thing anymore. So now I still think it's important to get your ratings and reviews and to ask your audience for feedback. I think that's always helpful, and it's good for when people visit your profile on podcast listening apps, they see that you have ratings and reviews. That means people have been there before you. They like your show, makes me more likely to tune in. So that's still important. But I wouldn't worry too much about it. I definitely wouldn't say on your podcast, like, leave us a rating and review. It really helps us in the algorithm, because it doesn't, because that's pseudoscience or whatever the podcast equivalent of pseudoscience is pseudo marketing. What have I noticed about New and Noteworthy? I have noticed that it's a lot of crime or investigative. And another thing about the Apple homepage that is huge right now that I think was actually discussed on the Sounds Profitable podcast with an episode between Brian Barletta and Lindsey Graham- Not that Lindsey Graham, the good Lindsey Graham, the podcaster- is that they are dedicating a lot of space in the Apple podcast app to subscriptions. So it used to be that there was no money involved at the home page and still technically there is no money involved, but they are encouraging podcasters to start subscription channels. So creating extra content for your listeners so that if they subscribe for 1.99 a month all the way up to 7.99 a month, I don't really know what prices, I don't know if there's a cap, but they are much more likely to feature your channel on their home page in a bunch of different curated sections if you create subscription channels. And that is definitely a tactic that some people are taking. You'll see that a lot of podcasts that previously did not have a Patreon, did not have extra content being put out there, are now putting extra content out there for the purpose of potentially getting featured on Apple, and that is often worth it. There are millions of people scrolling through the Apple podcast app every single day looking for something to listen to. And if your cover art strikes them at the right time, they might click and be a forever listener.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:13:15
It was about April 2021 when iOS 15 came out, and I know there was a bit of a shift with Apple, and if you were going to pay for podcasts, it would be a subscription. And for this podcast, which is free, you would hit the follow button. But I think a year and a half after that, we're really discovering that if you have a podcast that needs a subscription and you're going to pay for it, those things are being featured upfront and getting in front of people's faces.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:13:39
Oh, yeah. And there's so many factors that go into whether or not somebody will actually pay for your content. But it might even be worth it just for the Apple experiment because it might just get you new free listeners.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:13:51
I can't imagine anybody paying for this podcast, though.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:13:55
Don't say that.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:13:57
It is, it's completely low self esteem.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:14:00
No, I get it. I feel the same way about my podcast. It's like you really need podcast recommendations that bad that you're going to pay for my podcast? That's why I keep it free.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:14:08
So you spent some time up in Portland, Maine, you went to the Salt Institute and you learned all about Pro Tools. Why did you want to do that?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:14:15
Such a great question. When I started in the podcast space in 2016-17, I didn't know what I wanted to do in the podcast space, but I knew that I was gravitating towards the business side of things, mostly because I did not have any skills in Pro Tools or in Audacity or in the other editing tools, or even story editing, even just like reading a script and figuring out what sentence would make more of an impact at the beginning of the interview or whatever it is. And I was advising people on podcasts just based on the fact that I was listening to 30 hours of podcasts every week. And I was like, okay, if your podcast is about this, here is an example of a podcast that I listened to that's sort of about that. Here's what makes that podcast really impactful, and here's what I think you should do based on that. And I was able to advise, and give pretty solid advice, based on being a super listener. But then I decided in the pandemic, at the beginning of the pandemic, that I wanted to have some concrete skills when it came to the actual production side of things. So I wanted to be able to speak the language because at the time I was saying that eventually my dream job is to be a creative director somewhere. And if I'm a creative director somewhere, maybe it's a podcast only company or it's a multimedia company. It would be great to have these production skills so that I can talk about certain terms that I did not know about previously. So I decided I wanted to do this program in Portland. So in July of 2020, I drove across the country. I was living in LA at the time, and I went to Portland for just three months. It was a really cool experience. And I now have a cohort of people who learned alongside me. And we learned Pro Tools. We learned how to use a Zoom- portable Zoom recorder, we learned how to use Shotgun mics. We learned how to go up to people on the street and ask them for bits and pieces of information and then have them sign a consent form. It's a whole thing. And then to use that and make an impactful audio story. And so I think that is extremely useful because to this day, I still do a lot of podcast consulting. Now I can say, here is the methodology behind why this is boring, and here's why you need to change it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:16:22
And during that time you spent in Portland, Maine, how many lobster rolls did you have?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:16:26
I am a vegetarian. Sadly.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:16:28
I also would have accepted "I keep kosher."
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:16:32
Not really. I guess in theory I keep kosher just because I don't eat meat. But yeah.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:16:37
So something you just mentioned, which I had to write down, I wanted to speak the language. And I think that dives into what you've done recently and that's- you're working with Sounds Profitable and Brian Barletta and Evo Terra and Tom Webster, all those people have been on this show before you, by the way. Why did you decide to dive headfirst into Ad Tech?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:16:56
I have to go back to how I met Brian, which is I spend a lot of time on Twitter. A lot of time on Twitter. And every time somebody pops up on the Twitter sphere and starts talking about podcasts in some way, I want to know who they are and I want to connect with them. So in September of 2020, when I had just moved to Portland, Brian had just launched Sounds Profitable, and I was starting to see his articles pop up, and I subscribed to the newsletter. I was starting to read the newsletter, and I eventually reached out to him, and I was like, I like what you're doing. I especially love the drawings by Jake Crowe, and they're just so iconic. I want to know what you're doing and why you're doing it. So let's set up a phone call. So I think we spoke and I just wanted to learn what he was up to. I learned some of his background. He learned about my background and we stayed in touch and we wanted to work together in some way, but we didn't know exactly how. And then in the summer of 2021, so approximately a year ago, we started working together, I help translate his articles to social media, because social media is huge, and I talk about this a lot. Social media is not so huge when it comes to conversion, getting people to read your articles or to listen to your podcast, but it is huge for social proof and for people to see you as an expert and for people to potentially come across Sounds Profitable. It is worth it to be spending time on social media. You don't have to be on all social media, but you do have to be on some. So that is currently what I do for him. And then I also eventually, a few months later, I started co hosting the podcast Sounds Profitable. Ad Tech applied. And I wanted to do that because Ad Tech is fascinating. I had been steeped in it for so long, since I started listening to podcasts, but I didn't think about it in a critical way. And now that I'm in constant contact with Brian and Evo and Tom, I'm constantly thinking about podcast ad tech. Every podcast I listen to, I'm thinking about how they run their ads. I'm thinking about if their ads are dynamic. I'm thinking about if they made a mistake or if iHeartRadio mistakenly inserted an ad that really shouldn't be there, or they didn't cross off this sort of merchandiser on their list of okay brands, and now it's hurting their brand. So I'm thinking about stuff like that all the time, to the point that my friends even text me, and they're like, I think there was a mistake in this podcast that I listened to. I think this ad shouldn't be here. And I'm like, okay, thank you. I'll check it out. And a few times I've actually sent those suggestions to Brian and he's been able to be in touch with the brand and say, like, something not brand safe ran on your podcast. So that's been pretty cool. I went from zero to, I would say, I know a lot now, I'm not going to say 100, but I definitely know 100% more than I did before.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:19:32
So I understand ad tech, the way you explained it. I just don't think I do a very good job explaining dynamic audio insertion to people who are new to podcasts. So how would you do it?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:19:45
Yeah, so you can, as a podcaster, decide if you want your ads to be baked in or dynamically inserted. Baked in would be like if I said, hey, Matt, let's take a break and tell the listeners about Rode NT USB mini mics, and then we would do an ad for that, and then it would stay in our feed forever. So that would be baked in. But then if we wanted to, you could say right now, if we were doing Dynamically inserted, off mic, you could say, Arielle, we're going to take a break, so just feel free to say your last sentence and then we're going to fade out. And then in your podcast host, you would mark that this is a space for a dynamically inserted ad. Maybe you do that a few more times throughout the show. And then either you would insert content that you have pre recorded host-read ads, or you could get programmatically inserted ads placed there, and then over time you could remove those, put in new ones, you could put in a feed drop, you could put in a promo swap, and then swap those out. So there's a few different ways that your podcast can use dynamically inserted ads or content. And I like to make that distinction because content wise, we could say we have a new segment here from Mark Astwitz podcast, something like that. The Podcast Accelerator is now doing a segment on our show, and then a few months later, we could decide that we're not doing that partnership with Mark anymore. But now we want to put in Evo Terra's podcast. So that would be dynamically inserted content. It functions as an ad because ultimately you're hoping to send people to Evo or Mark's podcast. But it is content. For all intents and purposes, ads are content. You want your listeners to be engaged and you want them to listen through to the whole ad so that your advertisers are getting the impressions. But ads would be maybe it's a programmatic ad, maybe it's a host read ad, but lots of different ways you can go about it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:21:25
Okay, well, with that said, we're going to take a break and here come the programmatic ads for this podcast.
Mary Anne Ivison (VO) 00:21:30
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Tara Sands (VO) 00:21:30
The Sound Off Podcast.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:21:43
Did get a question that came in on the Twitter. Somebody slipped into my DMs and just asked this question. And that's, what's a good number of downloads?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:21:51
Oh boy. I feel bad because pretty much every question in the podcast space that's asked about marketing, the answer is, it depends. And that feels like a cop out, because it means that you probably need to pay somebody to do an audit for you, or to do a consulting session, so that I can tell you specifically how many downloads are good for your specific podcast or your goals. It depends. It depends. If you want to monetize, some people say 10,000, some people say 50,000 in order to really be profitable, and that's per episode after 30 days. But if you're looking to sell a course, or you're looking to just meet new people in the podcast space, 500 could be enough if they are targeted. And if your show is so niched down and has a great call to action, I hope that helps somewhere in between, maybe.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:22:31
The interesting thing is that the person who asked the question has 40,000 downloads after 30 days.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:22:37
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:22:38
I mean, dude, you're in the money.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:22:40
Yeah, you're in the money.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:22:41
We're recording this on SquadCast, and right around March 2020, when the pandemic hit, there's this influx of people who just want to do podcasting. And at the same time, companies like SquadCast and Riverside start to really up their game in the recording space. So how did you get on board to working as a community manager there and what do you see as being the value of getting involved with SquadCast?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:23:06
Yeah, I started using SquadCast in March of 2020 because I started a podcast with my friend and it was a Pandemic podcast. And she lived in New York, I lived in LA. And we decided that we wanted to prioritize the quality of our show. So we knew ahead of time that we were not going to use Zoom, which is interesting because when I think back on it, I don't know who got it into my head that Zoom was not the way to go. Because now, of course, that's something that we talk about at Squadcast is, a big education tool for new podcasters is don't use Zoom, use a dedicated remote recording platform. But at the time, I don't know how I knew that. I think just inherently, I knew not to use Zoom. Zoom is great. I should say Zoom is great for communication, not so great for recording podcasts.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:23:47
You're speaking to somebody today who has burned two and a half hours trying to piece together three people who did a podcast on Zoom. And so you used a term in there that I'm going to ask you to explain, and you said dedicated..?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:23:47
Remote recording software.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:23:47
So what does that mean exactly?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:24:02
I mean, specifically Zencaster or Riverside or Squad Cast or Welder or Boomcaster, something that is made for podcasters or for content creators and optimizes for audio quality. So cuts out those. Hopefully is a double ender. Hopefully is a progressive uploader, and I can go into those terms, but Hopefully is dedicated to the podcaster and making sure that they get the great audio quality that they need to appeal to their audiences because there are so many other podcasts to listen to. People are going to not listen to your show if it has shitty audio quality.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:24:36
Yeah, you're not going to understand this reference because it's definitely a Gen X reference, but it's like the McDLT back from the 80s. It keeps the hot side hot and the cold side cold. So you're being recorded and it's going straight to SquadCast. I'm being recorded. It's going straight to Squad Cast. And if you and I were to have interruptions or blips because of WiFi or any other interference, it doesn't appear it doesn't come out in the end result.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:25:00
Yes, you said it perfectly.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:25:02
Oh, good. It could be the first time I've explained any form of ad tech perfectly. Tell me about Sounds Profitable. And now that you're together and Tom Webster is there and it's growing, in what direction is it growing and what's the value of it, for those who haven't heard it yet?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:25:16
That' a great question. Sounds Profitable started as an Ad tech newsletter. Brian Barletta started it in September of 2020. It is now almost two years later. And it's not just Brian anymore. There's a bunch of people on the team in everyday capacities and then some people who host podcasts once a week. So right now, Sounds Profitable is a newsletter that goes out on Tuesdays, but it is also a podcast that goes out every Sunday that Sounds Profitable ad Tech applied. It is narrated articles that go out also every Tuesday, both in Spanish and in English. Those are narrated episodes of the Tuesday article that goes out. It is a podcast that goes out on Fridays that Sounds Profitable's The Download, which is a podcast about the business of podcasting and that is both in Spanish and in English. So there are a lot of people working behind the scenes that Sounds Profitable, and I think the goal is to be an education source for people getting into the podcast space who are interested in the mechanisms that run it. I would say what it is not is production help. Brian and Co are not saying like, here are the tools to make you a better interviewer. They're not really doing that, but they are saying, Spotify recently said that they are going to be prioritizing video. What does that mean for your podcast and how can you monetize that if that's your goal? Will Apple podcasts shoot you up to the top of the charts if you implement a paid channel? Or will they put you on New and Noteworthy or put you on one of their carousels? So they're having conversations like that with the goal of helping podcasters get paid or understand more about paid mechanisms in the podcast space ever since Tom Webster joined, which is just a few weeks ago, the goal is to also implement research and to find out what people are interested in learning and then going out doing the research and then presenting it in a digestible way that podcasters and other audio professionals can use to better their content and to reach larger audiences.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:27:10
So Brian was a big help. We were sponsors of Sounds Profitable for six months and Brian was instrumental in getting our podcast all set up with all the correct ad tech and onto the right platforms and we love getting together with him and doing stuff. And when he launched, by the way, in September 2020, this was one of the first podcasts he came on. So I got to know him then. But as you mentioned, it's been two years now and it's grown leaps and bounds.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:27:33
Yeah, definitely. And he's very transparent about his numbers. And so are all of the newsletters that are part of the Pod News Network. You can see how many subscribers he has on his home page. I think it's like almost 5000 at this point.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:27:46
Shout out to James Cridland with PodNews, everybody.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:27:50
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:27:50
So it appears over the last number of years, you've always got something new happening. So how do you prevent yourself from doing too much and flaming out and getting exhausted?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:27:59
I have been really lucky in that way. I always have new ideas, I always am excited to implement them. I have not yet burnt out, and I think that is because I just love it so much. And that's not to say that people who love their job don't always burn out. I've just been lucky up to this point. I think podcasts really keep me going. Podcast listening really keeps me going because I'm able to expose myself to so many new ideas all the time and just be inspired by people and stories and places that I've never heard of before. And Twitter honestly gives me tons of ideas. TikTok gives me tons of ideas. I recently heard- I was having dinner with my friend the other night. He's really into coffee and he's really into global commodities trading. And he was telling me about shipping and containers. And one of his idols is a coffee guy who has a patreon, and he makes like $50,000 a month from patreon. And he was telling me the model that he uses to make $50,000 a month on patreon, which is that it's a circular thing. People pay him on patreon. He then buys coffee products independently, does reviews on them, but does it independently so that he's not swayed by any of the people who are paying him to do reviews. Then people buy the products with his affiliate links and then he funnels that back in. It's just amazing and I was like, how can I do that with podcasts? So I love hearing stories, I love hearing ideas and then trying to figure out how to implement that into the podcast space. And people always say, Arielle, why podcasts? Why are you so obsessed with podcasts? And I think it's because it feels like this is the beginning of the podcast space. And yes, of course, there have been people that have come before me, and I was in college when I started listening to podcasts, but they've been around since 2004 and there's tons that has happened for me. There's tons that will happen after me, I hope, but I just feel like we're at a place where we can still write the rules. And I love that.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:29:50
Well, speaking of that, one of the things you did was the importance of taxonomy. What is that? Because I'd never heard of that until you introduced me to it. I never really thought about it. Why did you want to get more definition around podcasting?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:30:04
My first official job, getting paid to do something in the podcast space, was that I managed a podcast studio in Los Angeles. And while I was there, I found that a lot of- so it was at a coworking space. I convinced the coworking space that they should hire me to manage a studio. And they were like, great, we don't have a studio. Can you build a studio? And I was like, Okay. I had no idea what I was doing, but I figured it out. And my goal while managing the studio was not just to fill the studio with customers and to have engineers, but it was also to be a liaison between the coworking members and the podcast studio so they could book time with me and figure out if their business should have a podcast. And if it did, what would it look like? So I had a lot of conversations there, and during that time, people were like, okay, do we need a producer or do we need an engineer or do we need a writer? And I was like, Great question, because a producer, in theory can do all of those things, but also maybe shouldn't have to do all of those things. So that's when I started having conversations with somebody at the Coworking Space. More in depth about this. His name is Daniel Rosenberg, and he was like, okay, this should be defined. He didn't work in the podcast space, but he did work in the entertainment space, in TV and film, for staffing TV and film, and for a company called Staff Me Up. I don't think he's there anymore. But he was like, okay, these terms are defined in film and TV. Why aren't they defined in podcasting? Let's define them. It can be as easy as that. And I was like, there's got to be somebody doing this. So we looked it up. Of course there have been some efforts, but we really wanted to figure out a way to standardize it, not just in the US but abroad. And of course that's a big undertaking. But we started and we partnered up with Podchaser and built Podcast Taxonomy.com, which has put out, I believe, the first white paper and then an update to the first white paper on some definitions of terms. So what is a producer? What is an engineer? What is the sound designer? I could go on all day. There are so many different roles that need defining. And the point of that is not just to define the roles so that you can have job distribution, but also to figure out what standard pays would be so that when you're writing a job description, you can say, here's the range.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:32:09
And here's why I loved it, because I found something to contribute to it. And I'm not sure if it made the white paper, or where it's at exactly. But being as somebody who does voice acting, it could be a number of different things inside a podcast. So there's been times I've been asked to read a script and be part of the cast, and there's other times, would you be the imaging person, or the announcer who would come on at the beginning of the show? And I thought it was important to make that description for voice actors.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:32:36
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:32:37
That's my only contribution.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:32:39
Well, keep on contributing. It's very open. So not only is the white paper living, breathing, so we're updating it, I believe, yearly, but also we have a Slack channel. And in that Slack Channel, people are meant to say, just heard a podcast where the credits credited this person for this role. Maybe we should add it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:32:56
It's fascinating stuff.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:32:57
Yeah, and necessary. Really necessary.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:33:00
Have you recovered from COVID?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:33:02
Yeah, I feel great ever since I've had COVID. I felt terrible during COVID, but I think it's like a renewed sense of life now. So I'm like, let's go out and do things. It's still hard for me to walk upstairs, but I feel like that's just because I'm out of shape.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:33:15
What's your podcast app of choice? You mentioned you go through to check the algorithms earlier, but which one gives you the best listening experience?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:33:23
Yeah. So for years, I used Castbox, because I met Castbox in 2017 in Anaheim at Podcast Movement. It was my first podcast movement, and I got to go for free because I ran ads in my Earbuds newsletter. I emailed Dan and Jarrett, and I was basically like, hello, new podcaster here. I have a newsletter. Can I run ads in my newsletter in exchange for a ticket? And they were very nice, and they said yes, and I love them very much. While I was there, I didn't know anybody in the podcast space, so I just walked around. I think I was 24. I was walking around with a backpack on, just, like, visiting every single table and making friends and taking swag and taking cards. And basically I was just, like, looking for a job. I treated it like a job fair. I just wanted to work in the podcast space. And one of the tables that I went to was Castbox, and I don't remember exactly who I met, but I remember them being very nice and them telling me about the app, and then telling me about the robust search feature, which was very interesting to me at the time, because they transcribe- at the time. I don't know if they still do- They transcribe every single thing, which meant that you could search for a term and it would show up in that podcast app when you search for it, so you can find a podcast. If you searched mice in New York City, I don't know why that came to my head. What the hell? The weirdest things come to my head when I'm trying to come up with something.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:38
How was your subway ride this morning?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:34:40
There are a lot of rats in New York right now. It's pretty gross. So anyway, you could search for whatever and it would pop up. So I was very interested in CastBox from that point on, and I stayed friends with them and they ran a few ads in my newsletter. And then the following year at Podcast Movement in Philly, I was invited to give feedback on the app to Renee Wang, who is the founder of Castbox. And I got to go into like a special room and share what I thought about Castbox. And then a year later, they had a job open and they hired me to be the marketing and business development manager. And I got to learn the back end of the app and work with people on featuring their show in the app. And that's when the wheels really started turning. That one of the best ways to market your podcast is to be featured in podcast listening apps. Not just Castbox, but others. So I was loyal. I still love Castbox, still use it, but now I split my time between Castbox, PocketCast, and Good Pods, pretty consistently. I used to be of the mindset that if somebody sends me a podcast to listen to, I then type it into my podcast listening app of choice, which was mostly Castbox and listen to it there. But now if somebody sends me a podcast to listen to and they send it to me on Podcasts or on Spotify, I'll listen on that app because it's always good to check in with how the apps are working. So that's sort of my mindset. Now I'm definitely spending a lot more time on Good Pods and the way that I started to do that because it's really hard to move away from what you're sort of programmed to, which for me, five years listening with Castbox made it so that if I wanted to explore Good Pods, I really had to make a conscious effort to do so. But I moved it into the dock on my iPhone where it's always there, so it's much easier to access. And the reason I wanted to do that is because Good Pods really spends a lot of time on social media interacting with podcasters. I wanted to see what it looked like in action, so now I listen on there. I happen to have a lot of followers, so it's fun to listen because then I see other people listening to the shows that I listen to because it's the social app. I'm very excited about this, as you can tell, because I'm talking a mile a minute.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:36:38
But I think something that a lot of people miss when they do a podcast is that they don't really use the description field and they don't use their show notes to the full advantage. And you've got apps like Castbox that are out there looking for the words inside description fields. Guys especially, I don't know why it's guys, but guys especially will just skip over it and think it's not that important.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:36:59
It's very important. Not just for SEO, not just for search, but also because somebody is not just going to listen to your show just because you have a new episode out. They've got to have a reason. Yes, there are going to be people who love you, love your show. They're subscribed. They can't wait for every single new episode. But new listeners especially need a bit of orientation as to what it is that you're offering. So descriptions are really important. I talked about this on Twitter the other day, but I think one of the ways that people are losing potential listeners is not having alignment between their podcast cover art, their description, and then the first few seconds of the show. All those things need to match up. All those things need to be what I expect when I look at the podcast cover art. Is that the same as the first 30 seconds in tone? In feel? And if so, I'm going to continue listening because it's what I expected.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:37:44
So I saw that tweet, and I would like to say that that is the third best tweet that you have ever put out. You're very good at Twitter, by the way.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:37:53
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:37:54
That is the third best tweet you've ever put out. I just can't recall what two and one are.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:37:58
I can help. I had one tweet go megaviral. Is that one of the ones you're referring to? I had a tweet that said, a podcast where parents try to explain what their adult children do for a living, and it was so much fun to go viral. It has like 100,000 likes and tens of thousands of comments and retweets. It was so much fun. That was approximately a year ago. And I keep thinking, how am I going to top that and when am I going to top that? Because I've tried. It's not for lack of trying that I haven't gone viral again. And I try to think about what about that tweet? Like, yeah, it's funny. The idea is funny. And a lot of people have approached me to help make that podcast ever since. And I still hope to make it one day, but I want to do it again. I want to go viral again. And I keep trying to figure out how to formulate a statement, because it's not quite a full sentence, right? A podcast where pare- It's just an idea. So, yeah. Any ideas? Please feel free to hit me up.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:38:47
I think your tweets are fantastic and everybody should give you a following. What we're going to do is, we're going to take your top three tweets and we're going to put them inside the show notes of this episode just so that everybody can dig in and see them.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:38:57
Oh, lovely. I wonder what the other one is.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:38:59
I'll find it. You did mention transcription about five minutes ago. I heard the word come in my head. We talked about descriptions, we talked about show notes, and I tried doing an episode and I'm still wrestling with it, what is the value of transcription? But here you are, a very bright podcast mind who can explain why I need transcription for an episode.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:39:20
Yeah, it's not just about accessibility, but it's definitely a lot about accessibility. There are some times where I'm listening to a podcast on the subway and I don't want to turn the volume up louder because it's already too loud and I don't want to damage my ears. But I do wish that I could have words across the screen so that I could follow in those times. There are people who are deaf or hard of hearing who need transcriptions in order to enjoy the podcast that they love, in order to fully immerse themselves in that show. It's also helpful when it comes to dialects and accents that you might not be completely familiar with, but it's also great for SEO, and it can be really helpful for Google scraping your website and seeing that you talk about this phrase or this word over and over again, and then your site will rank for that. For me, SEO is important, blah, blah, blah. But I really think accessibility is the number one reason that you should be doing it. And we can no longer be leaving that to the back burner and saying it's just a few people who are going to listen because- or who are going to need the transcript. It should be a proactive thing that we do, in order to make sure that- nobody should have to ask for a transcript. Nobody should have to say, hey, by the way, I want to listen to this, but I'm deaf or hard of hearing, or for whatever other reason, I shouldn't have to ask for it. It should just be there. And the hope is that eventually podcast hosting sites or other types of services will integrate with transcription services so that it can be free or low cost, so that it's really not a heavy lift. But for now, yes, you might have to pay or spend some time in a free service editing to make sure that it actually makes sense. Because another aspect of this is you can't just upload your file and then download the automatically generated transcript because often there's going to be issues. Some names won't be spelled the right way. Some phrases will get transcribed in a weird kind of garbled English or whatever language it is that you are speaking in. So you do need to spend some time and that is a luxury, but it is important.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:41:11
We've hired no fewer than four people to go through the transcription of this episode and fix all the niss and blah, this and that. And Mad Kendall mentions.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:41:23
Ugh, man. You don't even know, growing up with this last name.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:41:25
What is the one thing that keeps you up at night or that you're thinking about the most that consumes your time, about the future of either ad tech or podcasting? What's one thing that you're thinking about and wondering, I wonder where this goes?
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:41:37
I want more podcast listeners. I want more people to listen to podcasts, and more people to listen to podcasts regularly, to see it as an alternative to TV/film, because there are such great podcasts out there that I know people would love if they knew how to find them, or if they knew what to do while they were listening. I think the biggest issue is that a lot of people can't listen to podcasts while they're sitting. I can't listen to podcasts while I'm sitting. I have to be doing something. Walking, washing the dishes, cleaning. Sometimes I clean extra so that I can listen to podcasts because it is the best. I think cleaning is the best thing to do while you're listening to podcasts because walking, you get- there's stimulants that might distract you. Driving, same thing. But for some reason cleaning is perfect for me. Anyway. I want more people to listen to podcasts so that we can continue to make podcasts that are niche down to what they love. That's great for advertisers, that's great for you as a listener. Yeah, that's what keeps me up at night. How do we find the people to be super listeners like me? I listen to 30 hours a week, sometimes 40. How do we find more people who love those podcasts, who love podcasts that much, and maybe less is fine too. If you listen to 5 hours a week, I'm still your friend. But I want to find those people, and I want those people to find more people. And it's not just because I love the podcast space and I want it to grow, but it's also because I think podcast listening has made me a smarter person. Because like I said, I'm not a big reader. So I wasn't reading beforehand or I was reading every once in a while, but I was frustrated because I wasn't absorbing it in the way that I thought I was meant to absorb articles or books. And now that I'm exposed to a medium that can seep into my veins by way of podcasts, I really absorb information and I take in stories, I meet people, I hear languages that I wasn't exposed to beforehand. In that way, it's made me a smarter person. It's also made me more empathetic by listening to podcasts from other cultures, from other people that I've never met before. But then it also just teaches me to shut up sometimes and listen, right? Like 30 hours a week I spend just listening to podcasts. And then, of course, I also spend some time listening to people in real life. So I'm listening a lot more than I was before 2014, and I think that that is inherently a good thing. So I want more people to listen to podcasts.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:43:48
Arielle, thanks so much for being on the podcast. I appreciate it.
Arielle Nissenblatt (Guest) 00:43:51
Thank you for having me. This was a lot of fun.
Tara Sands (VO) 00:43:51
The Sound Off Podcast is written and hosted by Matt Cundill. Produced by Evan Surminski. Social media by Courtney Krebsbach. Another great creation from the Soundoff Media Company. There's always more at soundoffpodcast.com.