Thanks to the plethora of free-to-use digital tools on the internet, starting your very own podcasting career these days has never been easier. But even with all of these at hand, many are still afraid to get their opinions out into the world for public consumption. Whitney Lauritsen chats with Lloyd George about lowering the barriers that hinder podcasters from freely expressing their thoughts and producing content they are truly passionate about. The two discuss the core pillars of a successful recording, the ethical ways of content monetization, and the highs and lows of TikTok. Lloyd also shares his insights about making the podcasting community more diverse and open to Black founders, a group with so much to share but given little to no platform.
This episode is sponsored by Zencastr. Visit zencastr.com/pricing and enter promo code “wellevatrzen” to get 30% off your first three months.
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Lowering The Barrier To Start A Podcast With Lloyd George
I feel like I’m over here beaming because I’m excited for this conversation with Lloyd, who I found through TikTok. Lloyd, you are what I imagined you to be. You are authentic on TikTok, and that shines through. You are authentic in the way that I would have been surprised if you had been any different to talk to offline. Some people are good at performing authenticity that you meet them, and you are shocked that they are not who they seem to be on social media. Has that happened to you too?
It has. Lots of times.
It is disappointing, but somehow, I knew that wasn’t going to be the case. I’m glad I was right because we had been talking for almost an hour before recording. My intention was we are going to talk for five minutes, press record, and keep all of our conversations on the show. We got into this big behind-the-scenes convo about podcasting, which is your passion and line of work. It is also your birthday, the day that this episode comes out, which I did not know ahead of time, but 11-11 is such a cool birthday to have.
I’m excited to be here, and in my hometown country, I’m from Zimbabwe, it is not a holiday or anything, but in the United States, it is Veteran’s Day. That is something I had to get used to. I’m excited to be here and chatting with you. I feel the exact same way about you. Thank you for having me.
I felt like 11-11 was another holiday, but I couldn’t remember off the top of my head. You said you are going to be in LA. Since we’re recording this in October 2022, you are going to be in LA on your birthday for the first time, which is where I live. I’m curious, do you have anything you want to do in Los Angeles looking ahead to the future and the day this episode comes out? What do you think you will be doing?
Since I was a kid in Zimbabwe, I would watch TV and see LA. It would look sunny all the time. That is what is associated in my mind. I keep seeing this video of people walking on this. It is not a trail, it is like a road for scooters, and it is across the beach. I want to be there, be in the sun and be on this specific road to say, “I was in LA, and I did this.”
Is there a Ferris wheel in the background of this road?
I know exactly where that is. It is on the Santa Monica Beach, near the Santa Monica Pier. It is South of the pier. When he started describing it, it was specific. There is a hotel over there called the Loews Hotel. If you look up the Loews Hotel and walk to the beach from there, that is where that sand is. It is pretty much exactly what from the photos and videos. You will be pleasantly surprised.
I remember when I went to that area for the first time, I grew up in Massachusetts, where I’m recording from. My dad and I went to Australia. He was doing business out there. I was obsessed with Australia as a little kid. I got to tag along, and we had a layover in Los Angeles, and like you, I had always dreamed of going there. I will never forget what it was like to go to the beach and see people rollerblading and walking with their surfboards. Truly what in the movies and tv, that part of LA. It feels like it is out of a movie. I can’t wait for you to experience that. You could go there for a sunset and have some food down there. Go to the pier if you want.
It is going to feel like a movie.
I hope I’m not overselling it, but you are going to enjoy it. I hope it is not rainy like the few times out of the year does. Be prepared because it does get chilly this time of year by the beach. That was one thing that I was not prepared for because you assume it is hot all the time in LA, but it can get chilly. One thing you and I talked about ahead of recording was your history of moving from Zimbabwe to the United States. It sounded like it wasn’t that long ago. Did you say 2006?
That is right, 2006.
That is farther away than we would like to imagine. Do you still think a lot about your time back then? Do you feel like you are new to the US? What is your state of mind coming from a completely different part of the world and now integrating into the US culture?
Being from Zimbabwe has shaped me and has played a big role in my identity. I left Zimbabwe when I was too young to appreciate its beauty, but I also got to America a little too late to embrace all of the things that someone like the other kids in my class was embracing. I have felt like I was without a home in that capacity, but even as I grew up and when I landed here in 2006, I was about twelve years old, and I’m about to turn 29. I spent half of my life there and a little more than half here. In that regard, as I think about my passions from my line of work or maybe my outlook on the world, a lot of how I perceived the world came from my time in Zimbabwe.
Do you feel that has influenced your podcasting career? How did that come about? Does that show up in the conversations you have as a podcaster, your passion for the production side, and the creation side of a podcast? I would love to hear that whole story, that evolution.
From the time I was a kid to what I do now, I have always felt like I was searching for purpose. That is a common theme in my life. I wanted to find my thing. Some people naturally know they are good singers. They know they are good actors or entrepreneurs. Some of my other colleagues were good students. They knew they were going to go to college, become a CPA, or whatever they chose.
I never had anything like that. I listened to my first podcast in 2015 while working a dead-end job, which was terrible. I would go to the bathroom and cry on my lunch break. That is how bad it was. I would go to this job. From 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, I would listen to podcasts and do my job. That is how I make the time pass by faster.
That was the first time I realized, “This podcast medium is amazing. This is the only medium where I could be at a job. I could be listening to something, I could get educated, it is free, and I could do it while still doing other stuff. It is not like I could do that with TV or music.” That was the first time I realized that this medium had a lot of potentials, and it was starting from that point. I produced my first podcast in 2019. In 2021 is when I decided that I love this. I’m going to become a student of this art craft and try and learn as much about it as possible.
I didn’t realize that you and I have a lot of similar timelines for this. In 2015, I had another show, and one of my big regrets now that I’m in this world is not keeping that show going because imagine what a show could be if it had started in 2015 or earlier. I learned about it when I was working at the Apple Store. I have these distinct memories of teaching people about podcasts. That must have been in 2006 or 2007. It was early on.
What you were saying about it being this free piece of information, that is exactly how I would describe a podcast because, back then, people didn’t understand it. The term originates from Apple because now I’m blanking on how exactly to describe it. It is maybe because of the Apple iPod. They coined the term podcast.
Half of the word is from iPod, which is where the pod comes from, and the other half is from the word broadcast. That is where it came from. It is crazy to think about Apple playing that big of a role in this video.
It must have been after 2007. The iPod was out earlier. It was the iPhone that came out in 2007. Seeing that whole evolution and now the iPhone playing such a big role in podcasting and how it still feels like we are new to it. It still feels like it is early. This is something that you have shared, and I’m fascinated by that. How are we still in the early days of podcasting, even though the medium has been out for so long?
This show started in 2019, like yours, and it was probably in 2021 that I started feeling passionate about helping other podcasters. That is why I have been drawn to your work on TikTok. I love your style of sharing information, making podcasting feel accessible, encouraging people, and breaking down the technology.
For instance, you and I have the same microphone, and we get drawn to similar techs. I’m always curious what are you going to share next? And I feel this kinship with the work that you do. You and I are different in the sense that it seems like you are interested in the management and helping people with the production and post-production side of podcasting.
I’m still figuring that out, per se. My original passion was like, “I wonder if I could get 1,000 people to start a podcast.” That is where my journey on TikTok started. It has pivoted over the last few months. I wonder if I could help business owners and creators manage their podcasts. If there is a creator that is talented and has a great idea but maybe doesn’t have enough time to manage their podcast, I wonder if I could do that for them. It has evolved. There are a few different ways that I’m trying to help people, but all roads lead to everyone needing to have a podcast.
It is interesting because as you observe the resistance that comes up with podcasting, this is something I wanted to talk with you about. You have a video that is funny. It is about people not starting a podcast and the excuses they give and the resistance to do it when if you have a mobile phone or even a computer, technically, you can start. You don’t have to have a fancy mic. We both have the Shure mics, which was a big step for me. I started off with the Yeti, which a lot of podcasters do. It is not necessarily a cheap microphone but a good and common beginner’s microphone.
I stepped up to the Audio-Technica mic I had used for a while. I was like, “I couldn’t wait to get a Shure mic.” You could, as a lot of people do, use a pair of headphones with a microphone on them. A lot of people use their AirPods, which I don’t think to have the best sound, but it is still okay not to have the best sound. I’m curious what other things, obstacles, or excuses that you found in your work that prevent people from starting?
I wonder if maybe you have dealt with this too, but from the time I started my podcast in 2019, it had been almost several years since I had the idea and not started. I find that is the case with a lot of podcasters. If you asked a random person like, “How long did it take you to record your first idea or first actual episode from the time you had your idea?” They were like, “It is normally between six months to a year.”
That goes to highlight the fears that we have. The challenges we have are not technical. They are less around it around the equipment we need and more around our fear of judgment in expressing our opinion publicly. I love to learn how long did it take you to start because I find that a lot of our fears starting are not related to technology.The challenges most podcaster face is actually not technical. It's more on the fear of judgment in expressing their opinions publicly. Click To Tweet
In 2015, when I had the first show that I did, my co-host and I did ten episodes or so. It was helpful to work with somebody else because she knew a good amount of podcasting, not from experience, but we both love to research. We used resources like Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas, who were putting out a lot of free information. I already had the Blue Yeti. I bought that microphone on a whim, and I almost returned it. There is something about it that drew me in a lot of people. I’m glad I kept it because I had the microphone. To your point, I already had the tech.
My friend had this boom arm that I now have for my show. I got this in the past several years. My friend had the pop filter. She had a lot more things, and she was willing to invest. I didn’t want to put a lot of money into it. I had the Yeti mic. What we had to figure out back then, which was a little bit more challenging than it is now, is the hosting side of it. That overwhelmed a lot of people and me.
We were using this popular tool called Libsyn, which is great, but back then, it felt complicated to set up Libsyn. You had to set it up through your website. I remember being like, “I’m going to persevere through this, but this is frustrating.” Nowadays, people don’t quite have that excuse. A lot of people use Anchor because it is plug-and-play. Have you used Anchor? What do you use for hosting?
I use Buzzsprout, but I did try using Anchor, and I was impressed at how easy it is. A lot of people in the podcast industry dislike Anchor because they are lowering the barrier low for people to get into podcasting. It ends up creating a lot more quantity than quality. I love how easily they make it. You can record your podcast and upload it in a matter of seconds. I do think that as the barrier continues to get lower, it is going to become easier for people to start a podcast.
I want to hear something from you that I have been working on based on observation, and it is this idea called Pod Length. The assumption is it is a four-week incubator for Black women to start their podcasts. The thesis of it is that I was doing a lot of microphone giveaways, and I would give people a microphone. What I learned is that even after they got a free microphone, they still wouldn’t start their podcast. I thought, “I wonder if there are other ways we could lower the barrier to start.” For instance, with this pod Length program, we take 50 Black women. Over the course of four weeks, we give them a free microphone, headphones, and microphone stand. We buy them dinner every day. We pay for their childcare.
The idea is, how low can we get the barrier to the point where there is now no reason for you not to start your podcast? Even if you have a microphone, if you are a single mom and you have a kid, and you have to make dinner, It is still going to be hard for you to start your podcast. What are all the ways we can continue to lower the barrier for people to start their podcasts?
I’m sure that there will still be obstacles. Your point is spot on about it being more of a mental obstacle because you don’t have to have any of that special tech. Most people have some device they can record on. They don’t even need headphones. I always try to be transparent. My Apple AirPods, I know these are expensive, but I worked my way up to get these, and they felt valuable to me over time. It is the same with the mic, but you don’t need any of that stuff. It doesn’t have to look a certain way or sound a certain way as long as it’s clear enough that people can understand you.
The next step that seems to be an obstacle, Lloyd, and I’m curious about your thoughts on this is, and it is something you brought up on TikTok is how you use a tool like Airtable to set up what your show episode is going to be. It looked like from your Airtable that you have a structure for your show set up to help you work through it. There are podcasters like me who could wing it and flow, and it is conversational. Do you consider yourself a podcaster that has more structure and more planning before you ever press record?
When I started my podcast, it was heavily scripted. I wrote down every single word I was going to say. At the time when I started, it was a solo podcast. It was just me. It almost felt like I was writing an essay, and I was reading it. Now I’m trying to become less scripted. What I do now is I have these core pillars. I break them down, and I might have four pillars. The first might be, “Tell us what you do?” I may ask a question like, “If you met me at a happy hour, how would you introduce yourself to me?” Within that pillar, I may have a few follow-up questions. I’m assuming that you may say, “My name is John, and I do X. My follow-up question would be A, and follow-up question B and then C.
In my mind, if each of these core pillars is seven minutes, that is my entire episode. If each of these follows up questions is a minute, that is how I get to the seven minutes. My whole thing at first was I didn’t want it to get awkward, and I didn’t want it to feel like I didn’t have any questions. Breaking it down in this capacity ensures me that if you are talking for at least 30 seconds to admit it for each question, that is my entire episode. It simplifies how to start up an episode. Especially when you have a guest, you have to think about what to ask them and how you want the conversation to flow.
Lloyd, I want to go back to your work supporting Black female podcasters. I’m curious why them? Why are you looking at that demographic?
In the world of podcasting, the Black market as a whole is underserved. There is not enough content for Black people in general. There is a study that came out by Sirius, and one of the things they found in the study was that 59% of people said that they would listen to more podcasts if there were more Black hosts. That is the first thesis problem. We could get more listeners, which means more advertising if there are more Black hosts.Black people are underserved in the world of podcasting. A study by SIRIUS shows that 59% of people say they would listen to more podcasts if there are more black hosts. Click To Tweet
Within that medium, I find that Black women generally have so much to say but don’t necessarily have the platforms to say it. To me, this seemed a cool opportunity to empower people. I tried to make this entire incubator completely Black run. Even if we have four instructors and a moderator, all of them are Black. The only thing I’m doing is organizing it, getting the people together, and trying to get the funding for it. It is cool to see this incubator that is completely Black run for Black women.
I can’t wait to see the results of that. I was sharing with you how I have noticed over the last few years that there doesn’t seem to be a ton of diversity in the podcast field. I asked you offline if that is true or is something that I’m seeing because I’m a White woman, where there seem to be a ton of White female podcasters and White male podcasters. A lot of people in their 20s and 30s and a ton of older entrepreneurs are doing it. I would love to hear more about your research and your observations about people who are outside of that demographic. What are you seeing? What aren’t you seeing?
The podcast space is changing fast. There is a podcast conference called Podcast Movement. It is the biggest podcast conference in the world. Around 2018-ish, a lot of people were complaining that this specific podcast conference was too White male-heavy. The conference got that feedback. They have made changes. They have more women hosts. They are slowly changing and getting more diverse. Even giving more White women a relatively new platform several years ago wasn’t necessarily the case. It is great to see that change.
As of late, people have been trying to be more intentional about bringing more people of color, giving them more opportunities, and giving more Black host opportunities. What you are realizing is something like we are all realizing that this space is not diverse enough. There are more people that could be given an opportunity and platforms to speak both as it relates to, like, “We need more hosts from an advertising standpoint, business standpoint, and technology standpoint.” That is my big fear, honestly.
If you look at, for instance, all of the hosting companies that exist within the world of podcasting, only one of them is a Black-owned company, even though there are many hosting companies. I constantly hear people complain. “We have way too many hosting companies. It is overwhelming, but not that many of them are Black-owned.”
To your point, the industry is still young, and we get to play a role in forming what we want to look like in several years. I’m grateful that we are thinking about these sorts of things. I don’t want the podcast industry to end up like the music industry or the film industry where it was like, “We have all these people of color that play a big role in turning the industry into what it is, but they don’t own anything.” That would be terrible.
I saw several years of TikTok videos about the subject matter. You wrote an article called Black Podcasts: An Untapped Ownership Opportunity. I want to hear more about that because that is something I haven’t even thought of. It is not the hosting or the guests which I have been working to ensure that I’m representing a diverse group of people in my guests.
At the beginning of the show, I wasn’t. One day, I looked at my guest list and was horrified. Without even realizing it, my guest list was almost entirely White. Even with the lack of diversity in gender, I can’t remember what the balance was if it was mostly women or mostly men, but I had to be intentional about it. When I tried to be more intentional, I found it challenging to find guests of color but also different marginalized people.
One thing I want to work more on is people that have different bodies. That is something that I do not always being an able-bodied person. I want to focus more on disabilities. There are many forms of diversity that I don’t see on other shows and that I didn’t see on my own for a while. I’m grateful that people like you are working to amplify voices and help people find each other. I want to hear more about this ownership side of things. What does that mean to you? What are some of the opportunities for Black people or people beyond the White community or the White able-bodied, etc.? What are the opportunities for them? How do they start getting involved, in your opinion?
Diversity of any kind requires intentionality. I’m excited to see that a lot of the hosts in the podcast space are starting to think about their audience in this way. My passion has been how do I get as many black people as possible to gain ownership in the podcast community. What that means for me is the podcast industry is a billion-dollar industry. That is because we have advertisers, analytics companies, companies that produce microphones and conferences, and companies whose entire job is to write captions for your podcast. That is all they do. We have all these businesses. They get seed funding. I don’t know if you saw this, but there is a hosting company that was acquired by Acast, and they were acquired for $34 million.
The podcast ecosystem as a whole is doing well, and it is going to continue to grow fast. We need to make sure now that Black people not only understand that the podcast industry is growing but also that there is a huge opportunity. I constantly hear business owners say, “I’m starting a business. I need a niche. I need an area to focus on. The podcast industry is a perfect industry to focus on. It is growing fast, and it is underserved.” The more Black founders and diversity we have. That will start to be reflective. Not only the type of content we see but also the types of creators we start to see. It feels great to be represented even.
One of the things I say in the article is, “Ironically, the only Black-owned podcast hosting company is also the only hosting company period in podcasting that is paid me to do some content work for them on social media.” When I was talking to the founder, his name was Patrick. He is cool. I don’t know how to describe it. It felt like I was seen, and we both had this look where we stared at each other. It was like a surreal moment, and it felt good to be represented. As a creator, I would love to see more of that. I would love to know the microphone I’m using was made by someone who looks like me, which is possible. I’m hoping that we will start seeing more of that in the years to come.
It is important to vocalize that because I have had the privilege of seeing a lot of people that look like me and seeing them as founders, guests, and hosts, I have had that example, and I don’t know what it is like to not have that experience. Do you feel like there are other barriers to entry into the podcast world? Is there racism? Is there a lack of resources? Are there financial obstacles or other things that are coming up that are making it hard for marginalized communities to get involved? If so, how do we overcome that?
There are a few different things that are happening that make it a bit challenging. The first is a lot of these business owners need support. When that Black founder does decide he is going to start a hosting company or a microphone company, they need our support from the Black community. The second thing is they need opportunities. I was a bit disheartened when I went to a podcast movement in August 2022 in Dallas. There was no dedicated stage and events for Black people. That sucked, and you could tell a lot of people were frustrated about that.
It also was not lost on me when I would go to happy hours or events and stuff. Let’s say there were 400 people there. You slowly start to see all the Black people slowly group in one corner. Part of it was this weird feeling where you are seeing another Black person, and you were like, “You podcast too. You do what I do.” It is this cool resemblance, and you want to get to know people that look like you. It is cool that they are there.
That highlighted that we are not being intentional enough to create space or give a platform to a Black founder. Whenever that exists or whenever there is an opportunity to be together, that advantage is taken. That wouldn’t necessarily be the case if there was a dedicated space for Black, there was a main stage, and this Black own hosting company was considered to be a sponsor or a keynote on the main stage.The podcasting community is not giving enough platforms to Black founders. They must be given their own opportunity or a stage solely dedicated to them. Click To Tweet
Generally speaking, I don’t know if this is a fact, but it feels like we are thought of as an afterthought. I went to one of the events that were centered around Black creators. I was on the last day of the conference. It was a smaller room, and I could tell, after all the other panels I had seen, this one could have gotten highlighted a little more.
In my opinion, some of the ways that people who aren’t Black may have a platform could play a role in helping a Black founder. I do think that the podcast community is pretty supportive. It is not perfect, but there are lots of people that do DM me and say, “I’m reaching out. I saw this opportunity. How can I help? Who do you need me to introduce you to?” They are trying to help me as a Black founder. I think some people are doing a good job of this, but I would love to see more of it as the industry continues to grow.
I’m reflecting on what you are sharing here about that conference, and I wonder, is it ignorance, is it an afterthought, or are people uncomfortable and don’t know how to put together things like that because they are not used to it? No one is pressuring or encouraging them, having to move through that discomfort and try things out.
Representing people that aren’t commonly represented is important, but unless having people request it over and over again, maybe it is an afterthought. You have an amazing opportunity to join that movement and get people together. You seem to have a natural desire and ability to bring people together. Something else I saw on your TikTok was about the Black Podcasting Awards. How did that go? I saw you did a call to action on TikTok asking people to tag. I didn’t see a lot of comments, and I didn’t know if it was the algorithm, whereas people don’t know a lot of Black podcasters. What was the experience to do with that video, and how did the awards go?
The first thing is before I made that video, the video was a video saying, “The Black Podcasting Awards are coming up. If you know a Black podcaster, tag them below so that they can nominate their own podcast.” I didn’t know about the Black Podcasting Awards a few weeks before that. I had made a video saying, “We need more Black ownership. We need more Black. We need our own award show. We need our own things.” One of the people commented in that video, saying, “We have the Black Podcasting Awards. You should check them out.” When I checked them out, I immediately reached out and said, “How can I help? How can I volunteer?” That is how I got connected with them.
It is cool to see a platform that is dedicated entirely to celebrating a group of people. That is awesome and dope. It is cool to see how excited people are when they are celebrated. It felt good to participate in these awards, specifically to see people get some recognition. You know how hard the podcast space is. Sometimes it feels like no one is listening to your podcast.
To have a set group of people that say, “We are going to listen to your podcast. We are going to celebrate it. We all loved it. You are going to be nominated or win an award .” It goes a long way. I sometimes feel like award shows as being vain, and I don’t personally care about their accolades. I feel this way about the Oscars every year. I could see the value in this specific way where it felt like I could see this moving the needle and making a tangible change in someone’s life.
Even for not being a person of color but interested in learning more, hearing more from other people, and finding ways to amplify their voices, I was excited when I saw your posting about that because I want to find those people too. I feel like it is hard because I don’t seem to know of a great resource. I’m in a lot of podcast groups, and I get frustrated. One of the groups I’m in is dominated by other White women. A lot of them are coaches and wellness people. I’m like, “You are too much like me I want to find people who are different from me in all different senses.” I don’t even know where to look sometimes.”
I’m also worried about the approach. My desire to hear from different people is I don’t want that to come across like I’m seeing them as a token. I don’t even fully know what words to use. I don’t want them to feel like they are being used or taken advantage of because I’m interested in learning from them. That has been a challenge too. I’m curious about how you can be mindful about bringing in different voices and truly showing them respect and a deep desire to connect with them, and not unless superficial. I’m using you for something way.
I don’t think anyone has spoken about this yet, but we are all thinking about it to some degree. It boils down to, in general, people knowing the podcast industry is growing and heavily fueled by advertisers. The advertisers are constantly thinking about, and not just advertisers but even conference hosts. They are constantly thinking about like, “How can we amplify what we are doing to get more sales.”
Let’s say we take a group like our Black audience, for instance. One of the things that Sirius highlighted is the Black podcast economy is worth almost $1 trillion in spending power. I may be butchering that number, but it is an astronomical number. If I have a business, an advertiser, and a conference, I know I need this audience. To increase my sales, this is an area I should be investing in.
Take whoever, I’m not going to name any names specifically for this show, but it feels to me that people feel taken advantage of when they feel like you don’t necessarily care about the community, but you care about what the community can give you. That may look like thinking through how you can invite as many Black people to your conference without necessarily putting any black people on stage.
I love the word you use, which is some mutual respect and appreciation. Even hearing those words go a long way as feeling seen, valuable, and not you. Approaching anyone and keeping those things in mind goes a long way and makes people feel like you care about them. It doesn’t always feel that way when people put on conferences where we don’t feel seen, or they are constantly talking about Black content without taking into mind what it may harm. I appreciate that perspective. That is even something that you are keeping at the top of your mind.People feel taken advantage of by content creators when they feel like they are not genuinely cared about. Mutual respect and appreciation must exist so everyone will feel seen or heard. Click To Tweet
It triggers me a lot to see things when they feel performative. When I learned that word in the context of dismantling racism, we saw that so much in 2020. I was trying to figure out how do I speak out about these things I’m passionate about. That is where I started to understand what performative action was. I didn’t want to do that.
Going back to the conference, I wonder does that same fear comes up when somebody might want to play a role in inviting different voices and people and creating more diversity but are they afraid of being performative? Is it possible that they are thinking about how they can make the most amount of money? Are they doing certain things because there’s a financial incentive? That could be the case, sadly.
On the business side of things, a lot of people get laser focused. It is all about surviving and thriving as a business. They are filtering everything through that lens versus my big shift in my career has, and for many years, I was like, “How do I monetize my content?” I had to go back to why did I start this in the first place? What do I care about? This isn’t about the money. Yes, I want to survive. I want to be able to pay my rent. I would love to pay my rent through my content because I enjoy doing it, but that can be tough.
That is something else I would love to chat with you about, Lloyd, your experience as a content creator, and the decisions you have to make so that you can sustain yourself. You are married. I imagine that comes into play, being a husband and thinking about finances. How do you think through all this stuff in the context of your business to keep it in line with your ethics? I will answer too.
I will be honest. This is hard for me. I find myself doing things I wouldn’t normally do or don’t want to do quite a lot specifically because I feel like I need to monetize what I’m doing to justify my time. For instance, there are lots of sponsors I work with and create content on their behalf that I love, agree with, and support, but I don’t enjoy it that much.
If I had unlimited resources, I probably wouldn’t do it. It is a healthy balance between thinking through what is the larger mission we are trying to accomplish, which is that we need money to keep doing the things that we are doing that we enjoy. That may mean we need to do some short-term things that we don’t necessarily love and aren’t unethical per se.
You framed this question well because I’m breaking it into two aspects which are tangibly, realistically, and practically, how do we make money on a day-to-day basis from our content? It is also this ethical standpoint that is also important. To me, that is big, and it is a core pillar. I find that my overall approach to life is to treat people well, and things will always work out as they should.
I believe God is working things out on my behalf, and I don’t necessarily need to advocate for myself in that way if I try to always do the right thing and treat people well. Sometimes that might mean you get taken advantage of. Sometimes that might mean that you may not get the last word always but believe that in the grand scheme of things, things will work themselves out in your favor. It is how I try and stay on the right side or the ethical side of things. I do want to hear your answer because I was going to ask you this before you asked me.
I have been in the content creator world since 2008 and saw so much shift before even the term influencer was being used. I was trying to figure out how to monetize, and I have leaned mostly towards and have continued to do this, especially in more recent years, like educating others. It is like what you are doing, supporting other people directly versus supporting the brands.
I do sometimes work with brands, and I do occasionally have sponsors for the show. I have a sponsor right now. I have been grateful to have the sponsor. That is not my primary focus, and I don’t want that to be my primary source of income, similar to what you have been saying because in the past, when I was focused on working with sponsors as my main source of income, I felt like it was easier for me to compromise my ethics. I would let things slide. This isn’t exactly what I believe in, but it is close enough. I probably would buy this.
I would find myself not fully in alignment and not good at faking things. I don’t enjoy it. I could act and pretend, but deep down, I feel awful the entire time I’m doing a performance. When it comes to doing a sponsored video on YouTube, I will be like, “This feels horrible.” I also started to realize that the money I was getting paid didn’t even feel worth it because it didn’t feel good.
Sometimes, I have worked with brands where the people at the brand were unpleasant and treated me poorly. The big turning point for me was in 2020. There is this one campaign I got for social media, and they weren’t paying me well, but it was something that I cared about. I was like, “I believe in this.” The way that they treated me that I ultimately pulled out of the campaign last minute. In the contract, they were taking advantage of me, and that was the final straw.
I became a big advocate for content creators to read anything that they are signing, including contracts and agreements. Make sure they are writing their own whenever they are doing a brand deal, which a lot of people don’t do. Understanding the language and how your content can be used because, sadly, you might think that you are making money and it might pay the bills, but how could this company possibly take advantage of you? How are they treating you? Do they value you? Are they treating you like a human being, or are they treating you like another way to make money with their company?
Sadly, I have had a lot of the latter experiences. I pulled back, and it shifted my relationship with social media. The positive is that I found through podcasting there seems to be more value, and people started taking me a little bit more seriously. It is because podcasting might still be a mystery, something new and unexplored, and it is not super crowded yet. Even the people who get in on a podcast still have to prove themselves. It takes a lot of work to grow a show. You could do it through all these free tools, as we have talked about. The barrier to entry is not high, but finding success in the podcast field takes a lot of time. That brings me to something else I wanted to chat with you about, but I will pause because you might have a follow-up question.
I resonated with a lot of what you said. As I heard you talking, I felt how you felt about this. Even more specifically, there are times when I feel like the money for the work I’m doing for brands starts not to feel worth it. To your point, it is that being creative and figuring out ways where that doesn’t have to be the case is important. I don’t know that people understand that until you go through an experience like this.
You have to have some of these bad experiences first, sadly. You have to be resilient enough not to get too jaded from it. TikTok is a great example of where you and I met. I have gone through phases of doing a lot of content on TikTok, and right now, I barely ever post there. I record a ton of videos with the intention of putting them on TikTok. Even when money is not involved, I want to feel at ease in the flow to content creation, otherwise is not worth it. TikTok feels a lot of pressure. I’m curious if you feel that way, Lloyd, because you seem to be consistent with your videos. They are well done and thought out. Does that take a lot of time and energy? Do you feel pressure on the platform to perform a certain way?
I resonate a lot with what you said earlier that I find platforms where people are kind to me. I don’t post a lot on Instagram and YouTube. I’m not even on Twitter. If I feel like there is any chance where you are going to be chill with me posting media comments is not the platform for me. TikTok feels like people are supportive and kind. I love that about it.
I do go through phases where it feels like, “I’m in my flow. I got my schedule. I’m consistent. Topics are flowing. I’m creating 3 to 4 videos a day nonstop, no problem. Let’s go.” When I first started on TikTok, there was a point where I was doing 6 to 7 videos a day, which is insane, and I don’t recommend it. Now with TikTok, I’m trying to be a little more intentional but also giving myself grace and understanding that the last several weeks, when I moved and relocated, I didn’t post any content, which felt good. It felt like a good vacation and a good break. I’m slowly trying to get back into it and giving myself permission to do that. There is pressure for me to keep creating, and when I don’t create, I feel like I’m missing out on something.
I do have that FOMO feeling, but I have learned to embrace that over the last few years that I stepped back around when the pandemic started. In early 2020, I was feeling not pulled into creating content like I used to. I stepped back from Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. I leaned into podcasting, and that felt so much better.
I love TikTok as a consumer and a viewer. It is the greatest. I love that. I get to meet people like you. I have made wonderful friendships, partnerships, and many cool opportunities. I do have that subtle feeling of, “I should be posting.” What I have learned is that you have to balance it out and be intentional. You have to evaluate, “Are you doing this for yourself?” Usually, the answer is no for me. That is what I know. I’m not going to spend an hour making a video. Even if it is already filmed, I still have to edit it. I want to think through it. That awful feeling when you put a ton of work into something and the algorithm doesn’t show it to anybody.
I have learned to ask myself, “Is it okay if nobody sees this? Is it still worth posting? If the answer is yes, I will probably do it.” If I’m posting for views, that is usually a sign that it might not be the right choice for me and is worth all the time and energy because I have no control over how many people see the content. I have no control ultimately over the podcast. I can do all this work to optimize things, but a lot of times, I will go into my analytics, and they won’t be the results I was hoping for. I have to be okay with that.
Part of what I have been thinking about is there is this weird feeling where people will message me and say, “I started my podcast because of you. I’m on episode two, and it is amazing.” I think back to what having a podcast did for me. There is no way I would have even been able to create on TikTok. I was terrified of creating content online. A podcast was the first thing that gave me confidence. I’m like, “I can do this. I did this. I created this thing, and people are listening to it.” One person saying I started my podcast is the equivalent of 1,000 views. Having four people say they did something. They made an action, bought a microphone, recorded, and overcame the fear. It has an impact. I like to think of my community as being hyper-engaged even though it is not super big.
That mindset is drastically helpful. It is hard because there is so much pressure to get followers and views, but I have learned to feel that pressure and let it go over time. I went to a trade show and talked to all these different companies there. I go there because I love natural products. The show is a big showcase for food, drinks, body care, etc. I will walk around and talk to a lot of brand founders.
Every once in a while, they will ask me about my podcast and social media. They will ask how big my following is. I’m trying to develop an answer to that because it makes me uncomfortable when someone was like, “How many followers do you have?” I’m like, “You have just met me, and this is how you are evaluating me. If I give you an answer that doesn’t impress you, does that mean the conversation is over?” That is such an awful feeling.
I can’t blame people for asking those questions because we have been conditioned to do that. Over the past several years, that has been such a huge part of our society of follower counts equaling value and view counts equaling value. As a creator, if you are in this for the long run, it is wise not to be focused on that.
That also plays a role in the diversity side of things, Lloyd. I have to recognize that not everybody has equal opportunity and success. There is a lot that goes into success. It is not always what it seems. People buy their success. People have connections. We are learning a lot about nepotism and people that get a leg up because of their families. There are many factors that go into what somebody achieves. For a while, I felt like I would be pulled into having guests on the show because they had big audiences.
I learned that just because someone has a big audience doesn’t mean that they are going to draw an audience to you. I would so much rather have valuable conversations that have nothing to do with somebody’s following or success metrics. If they can add value to my life and a few people listen to this show, that is what is most important to me. That is a daily reminder because, on the outside, there are many people saying, “Don’t you want to grow your numbers so you can get sponsors and impress people in conversations?” Do you go through this too, Lloyd? Where are you at with that mentality?
Specific to podcasting, there are a lot of nuances that aren’t accounted for. I posted a video where this guy who is a successful podcaster is talking about his friend who is also a successful podcaster. They get a large number of monthly downloads, but their total revenue is $10 million. The guy is explaining. They are able to make $10 million from their podcast because that same audience that listens to the podcast also buys their educational content. They also go to their trade show.
The guy continues to make this point, “I’d rather have 35,000 podcast downloads, which is a large number versus 75,000 YouTube subscribers because the number of podcast downloads needs to be multiplied by the commitment of that specific subscriber. If a podcast listener is more committed to the show, they are willing to say every single week, I’m going to give you an hour. That is significantly greater than maybe someone that is willing to watch a five-minute video on YouTube. That type of person is probably the type of person that would buy something from you for $1,000 or $500, whatever it may be.”
There are many nuances that go into identifying audience size because I rather have 1,000 people that are ultra-committed and love what I do than maybe 10,000 that were like, “If I’m interested, I might check out his work.” I go through that quite a bit and think through what my goal is and what I am trying to accomplish. I will say, “It is a difficult thing to try and figure out, especially because it is dependent on other people like sponsors.”
For many of us in the business entrepreneurship world, we have heard of 1,000 True Fans from Kevin Kelly. It went to the development of Web3. A big Web3 speaker, an expert, she might have said how technology is evolving. You might not even need 1,000. A hundred people could be as valuable. I felt so much relief hearing that, and I hope I attributed it to her correctly. Even if I’m wrong about what she said, I feel how relieving it would be because a hundred people feel such an achievable number versus you see the huge podcasters or content creators out there with millions and you think, “I’m never going to get there.”
That comes back to the obstacles that people face, the pressure to get listeners and sponsors. It is the pressure to have something that you can brag about. What if you could always bring it back to the reason you are doing it, your passion for it, your interests, and the connections you can make? There is so much value to a podcast beyond those numbers.
A big part of it is also how consistent you can be, which is the gas you need to even get to the 100 or 1,000. I feel like you have done a tremendous job with that. I did want to ask what you feel has made it a little easier to be consistent at growing or managing your podcast.
Honestly, I love it. I find it easy. I have always been on the long-winded side. I had to give myself permission to have a long show. One of my big obstacles starting this podcast was hearing that the average listener only listens to 10 to 30-minute-long shows. There is some statistic like that years ago. I thought, “That might be true, but that is not me.”
I always average an hour, and I have tried doing shorter, and maybe I can do a 45-minute episode. Even with someone like you, we have already hit the hour mark of recording, and I don’t want to stop talking to you. I had to give myself permission because that is what kept me consistent. If I had kept trying to make them short and concise, that pressure would have led to me not being consistent.
Looking back over content, there were many times in my career with YouTube and Instagram when I was trying to force myself into a box based on what I heard would give me the highest chance of success. I turned down many opportunities over the years that maybe could have propelled me in different directions metrics-wise. I also could have ended up like a burnt-out content creator, as we have seen happen to huge creators out there who no longer do their content anymore. I wonder, “Did the pressure become too big? Did it grow too far beyond who they are at the core that they couldn’t sustain it?” I don’t want to be that person.
Coming up on almost 400 episodes of the show across the past several years, I’ve been able to be consistent because I’m leaning into authentically what brings me joy and not being attached to all these metrics of success and income. That in itself is also a privilege, and it is important to recognize that I don’t have to depend on the show for income or metrics because I get validation through other parts of my life, and I get income from other sources. Does any of this resonate with you? I want to toss it back to you, Lloyd, as we get close to the end of our time together, sadly. How do you think through these things? How have you stayed consistent, passionate, and growing with your work?
I’m grateful that you have given us this much time to chat because, on my podcast, I tell guests, “We are going to be together from the 24 minutes. It is going to feel short.” Even in me being here, I felt free and felt like I could fully say my full answer and not feel like I had to make it more concise. For me, I probably could have been a little further along in terms of metrics. Had I been more rigid and more systematic?
Part of what I have enjoyed this last 2021 is saying, “Screw it.” Giving myself permission to be a little crazy and try different things. If you listen to my podcast from episode one on, you will feel much like, “What the heck is this guy doing?” It is random. I tell people, “I think about it much like music.” If I wake up tomorrow and I’m like, “A solo episode that is three minutes would be great. Let’s do it right now.” I don’t need the structure or anything. I was like,” This is how I’m feeling. I feel like interviewing my sister. Let’s get her on the phone and do a podcast right now.”
Kendrick Lamar or whoever musician you like, no one ever says to them, “Make your album the last five albums. Make your album like this other artist.” I love the freedom of knowing that Kendrick Lamar’s every single album is different, and we love that. We praise him for that. That level of creativity to me is impressive, and I want that to be the case with podcasting.
Do you feel that helps you stay with it versus dreading it? A lot of people are surprised when I tell them, “I do two shows a week, and I’m up to almost 400 episodes.” They were like, how did you get there?” It felt easy. It flew by, and I could see if I had done my show differently, like a job I didn’t like, I dread it and probably would have been like, “Why am I even doing this? This isn’t satisfying. Have you had that same experience?”
I feel like I have, and I feel like the keyword you mentioned is satisfaction. In my second episode, there was a song that kept being stuck in my head by this artist named ASAP Ferg. On the same day, I dyed my hair blonde. I made an episode called My Hair is Blonde. I talked about how I was walking. After my hair was dyed, I went in feeling crappy, but after my hair was done, this was the song that came to my mind. I played that song in the episode, and I felt that level of sanity, whatever the word is. It felt great to me. It felt good, and that gives me satisfaction. I feel like I can be different and creative. This is still a creative medium.
The key here is creativity. Leaning into that and finding what lights you up, what satisfies you, and bringing that to the show because other people feel that. That is what listeners are looking for. They want to be entertained, educated, or want to feel some relief. A lot of people listen to podcasts to feel something or distract themselves from feelings that are unpleasant.
I want to add one last thought, which is that people listen to podcasts listen to their hosts like they have some superpower, and I like to think that we all have that superpower. We all can create and share our opinion. As weird, quirky, and unique as we think we are, the moment we share our opinion publicly, people that resonate with us begin to find us. That doesn’t happen until we start.Every podcast has their own unique superpower in sharing their opinions publicly and letting people resonate with what they have to say. But that doesn't happen until they start producing a show. Click To Tweet
I encourage everyone to start a podcast and tell yourself, “You are going to record three episodes. After those three episodes, if you hate it, you don’t have to continue it. If you love it, I hope that you continue it. I’m sure you will learn a lot of amazing things about yourself, and you will find a tribe that appreciates you for who you are.
The connections that you make with other people are incredible. You mentioned the podcast conferences. Oftentimes, I will go to them and feel like I’m not learning a ton from the speakers, sadly. I wish that I could learn more, but I will maybe get these little nuggets here and there. I get the most value from connecting with other podcasters. Podcasters, as a whole, tend to be so curious, and they want to talk. It is a cool opportunity to have these interesting conversations with people.
I also found this through another podcast that I host right now. My cohost runs a business and does the podcast because it connects him to other amazing people in the business world. He is not attached to the numbers of the show. It has been challenging for us to grow that show, but it is okay because of the connections he’s making with others. Podcasting gives you access to incredible people you might not have been connected to otherwise.
I’m at a point now with my show where people are constantly pitching themselves to be on here, and it is cool because random people I have never heard of are showing up and telling me about their books, their projects, or their missions. I’m thinking, “How else would I have been introduced to this person?”
It is not only that. Meeting people is one thing, but it is the level of depth. You and I have been talking here for an hour. If we were coworkers, neighbors or maybe we met at a coffee shop, the amount of things you now know about me in this hour-long conversation, neither of us would have held our phone to look at it, which would have happened if we were in person. If I moved, I would relocate with my wife. Imagine sitting with someone at coffee for an hour and talking to them. I love this art form.
I have never thought about it that way. That dedicated time one-on-one. Some of my guests were married couples. It was fascinating to sit and talk with them about what they do and who they are. Once you start recording, it is rare. I don’t know if I have ever had a guest that has looked at their phone. I’m pretty sure I either had a few or been on other shows where it seemed like the host was distracted looking off-screen a ton. I’m like, “What the heck are they doing? I thought we were having a conversation.
Overall, people do tend to be engaged and focused in a way that you don’t get in other circumstances. That’s interesting that you pointed that out. You are a great example of that. You can find kindred spirits, learn so much and share that conversation with others. My whole aim is I want listeners to feel like they are hearing almost a private conversation and getting to be that observer or you are listening to someone without them knowing, a fly on the wall type of thing. I’m not supposed to be here, but I’m curious. Voyeur is the term I was looking for. It is like leaning in and having a discussion that maybe you wouldn’t get otherwise. Podcasts are amazing.
Together you and I have hopefully sold some people and considering podcasting. I would love to hear what you are doing. You have the incubator. You are doing some of the management services, last I heard. What else could you offer for someone who might be ready to take the next step? How do they get in touch with you? You said you are getting some things off the ground. What is the timing look like?
I would love to connect with anyone that is interested in getting more tips on podcasting on any social media platform. My username is @LloydNotGeorge. People always try and call me George. I figured out to clarify my username. I share our daily tips on content creation for people that want to start their podcasts. I hope some people take me up on that.
I will be giving away a few microphones that I got. I try and make it as easy as possible for people to start. I want to say thank you so much for having me. As I listened to some of your other podcasts, I knew this was going to be a great conversation because you are such a great host, and you do such a wonderful job. Not only researching, asking questions, and making this conversational, but this has been helpful for me. I feel like I went to a therapy session, and I was able to get everything off my chest and express how I felt. Thank you so much for creating your platform for me to do that.
I’m grateful that you feel that way. It is funny because the chapter that I am opening up in my career is as a well-being coach. I’m starting to find my podcast conversations evolving in a new direction based on how I’m being trained as a coach. No better compliment to say, “I can help someone feel more clear about who they are and what they want to do.”
It has been wonderful to hear you share all of this and understand the journey. How you think about things is compelling. I also saw you have been working on your website. Where is that right now? I saw this from one of your TikTok videos maybe a few months ago. It looks so cool. Your website is set up for people to listen to your podcast, follow you on social, and work with you. What do people get when they go to that site? I’m going to link to it in the show notes of this episode.
The website is LloydNotGeorge.com. It is the hub for people to learn how they want to engage with me. The most exciting thing I’m working on right now is a newsletter for creators, and it is called Cre8tor Hub. The big idea here is that there are many resources. Even financial resources, like we were talking earlier about the LinkedIn Creator Accelerator, which you get 12,000 or something when you get in. There are many resources like that that I run across on a daily basis, and people don’t know about them. I wanted to create a centralized place for people to come along. I scour the web and send you the most interesting things I found for that week so that you don’t have to do any of that research.
I’m glad you brought up your newsletter because I bookmarked it to sign up. Sometimes, I’m on TikTok, and I’m like, “I’m not ready to leave TikTok, but I’m going to save something to do when I’m ready to get off TikTok.” Your newsletter was one of them because it looks great. I love newsletters like that. The way you format it is great.
That is on your website, and it is easy to access. If I link to your website, you can go there immediately. At the very least, if someone doesn’t want to start a podcast, your Tiktok is pleasant to watch. Lloyd, I light up whenever you come on my for you page. I’m grateful for how you express yourself and your desire to support others, and meeting another kindred podcaster has been lovely. I’m sad to wrap up this conversation, but it is a to-be-continued moment for me.
We will continue it on my podcast, and I’m grateful that you had me. Thank you so much.
Thanks again, Lloyd, for being here. Thanks to the readers, I will be back again for another episode.
Thanks for having me.
- Lloyd George
- Lloyd George – LinkedIn
- Black Podcasts: An Untapped Ownership Opportunity
- My Hair is Blonde
- @LloydNotGeorge – TikTok
- Cre8tor Hub
- LinkedIn Creator Accelerator
About Lloyd George
Lloyd is a Zimbabwean American content creator. As a podcaster & TikTok’er, Lloyd uses his platform to help people start their first podcast.
Over the last six months, Lloyd has accumulated over 1.3M views and has built a community of 11,000 aspiring podcasters through beginner-friendly tips, giveaways, and resourceful content.
Lloyd has been a consumer of podcasts since 2015 and produced his first podcast in 2019. He uses his platform to help people pursue the best version of themselves by encouraging them to begin their journey podcasting.
Lloyd believes the podcast community is an essential part of the creator economy which is why he continues to develop long-term partnerships with brands to creatively improve the podcast community.
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