As I stepped off the plane, feeling the Las Vegas heat hit me for the very first time, I had an unwavering sense of excitement.
Hopping into a cab, I made my way to the Westgate Hotel for my first ever podcasting conference, the now-defunct New Media Expo show.
The show would go on to impact my life in many ways, ways that I wouldn’t even realise until much, much later.
It was April 2015 and during those whirlwind three days, I made lifelong friends and was first introduced to many of the people with whom I’ve gone on to either form business relationships with or work with in varying capacities.
It was here that I met my life-changing friends Ramona Rice, Jonathan Oakes, the ever-inspiring Jacqueline Rehan, the savviest podcaster I know, Jordan Harbinger, a good friend and sometime mentor, Chris Ducker, online entrepreneur and friend, Pat Flynn, my great friend Jess Kupferman (even though she doesn’t remember it, tut) and the wonderful Vernon Ross.
I also met for the first time some wonderful podcasting experts and leaders in the field.
People like Rob Walch, Todd Cochrane, Rob Greenlee, Dave Jackson and Jay Soderberg who loved this industry as much as I’ve come to love it, way before I even knew it existed.
Even though I made these new friends and continue to enjoy their support and guidance over three years later, I had an ulterior motive.
I was about to enter the podcasting market as a business person, and no-one knew.
At that time, I was running the digital/brand agency that I’d spent a decade building, HACKSAW, and had the previous fall (on International Podcast Day) launched my own personal brand and podcast, ”Excellence Expected” after tinkering with podcasting as a hobby with my DC Comics show ”Two Shots to the Head” (thank you, Gaz, I owe you for that).
In November of the same year, 2014, I became friends with John Lee Dumas and Kate Erickson from EOFire and had devised “Podcast Websites”, a SaaS version of WordPress that includes service-based support, design and podcast media hosting, plus a tonne more, all in one place – a product that helps podcasters to build their own online brand with a view to becoming the audio influencer in their niche.
“Podcast Websites” had entered beta quietly in February 2015 and since then has gone on to grow to a team of nine people in the United Kingdom & United States and help hundreds of podcasters to launch their audio brand.
I love “Podcast Websites” and the team that we have built is world-class. The product is world-class, the service is world-class and our members love us because we are people helping people, bridging two worlds – podcasting and digital/brand to take podcasters on a journey to true audio influence.
But here’s a secret: “Podcast Websites” isn’t the business – it’s one product in a suite of products that I already had mapped out in my head and on my wall in early 2015.
Since then, we’ve launched “The Podcast Success Academy” to give podcasters the digital marketing skills that no-one ever told them that they needed to succeed and unbeknownst to the world, the world who believed that “Podcast Websites” was the endgame, we have also developed two other podcasting products ready to enter the market.
Poductivity is one of them.
And would you like to know another secret?
It was my very first podcasting product idea.
Before it all, there was Poductivity.
In fact, I still have the sketches from late 2014 right here on the iPad that I’m writing this blog post on and the notes I made during New Media Expo in 2015, too.
Don’t believe me?
Go check out the Poductivity Twitter page, and when it was registered.
But I had a challenge: I was new to the industry, I didn’t know it’s nuances or inner workings; I had no feel for whether my idea was needed even though my gut told me that I had to bring it to market because it IS needed.
And so, in April 2015 I stepped off the plane into that Las Vegas heat and I did so with two purposes: quietly watch the industry as a podcaster to look at the landscape and whether or not Poductivity would fit, and look at the gap in the market that our first product – the one that was easier to launch because we already had everything we needed, “Podcast Websites” – to ascertain the best time, place and brand messaging to use for our public launch later that year.
Poductivity is a product that will impact every single podcast, every single podcaster and every single listener on the planet – I believe that and those within my inner circle who know exactly what Poductivity is believes that, too.
I don’t say that from a place of ego, I say that from a place of humility because one of the main reasons, outside of ease of launch, that we began our product suite with “Podcast Websites” is because I needed to serve my time in the podcasting industry.
I needed to live it, breathe it, feel it grow, watch it evolve, develop a deep sense of respect for it and learn how it worked at all levels, from solo indie podcasters to million download network shows.
I’ve invested in travelling the world to speak at, exhibit at and attend industry events, so much so that my friends Jared and Dan from Podcast Movement probably still have a wager on exactly how much time I spend in the U.S. when I live here in the UK.
I’ve done over 400 one-to-one calls with podcasters at Podcast Websites, so has Kieran our CTO.
I’ve started, stopped, developed seasonal podcasts, done a daily show, done an interview show, written an original content show (must record that one day), devised and started recording a hyper-local show – I continue to experiment every single day.
For the last few years, every waking moment has been podcasting.
I had to fall in love and just like every good relationship, that takes time, respect and lots of care & attention.
This has helped me to build the vision for Poductivity to affect all levels of the podcasting industry – rather than start with “how far can we get this thing”, we’re now building a product that everyone will be able to use.
A few weeks ago I was walking through the village that I was brought up in and a thought struck me, a thought so big that it shocked me:
What if everyone who is already a fan of, and will become a fan of podcasts in the village, the town and the county that I was brought up in is using something that we’ve developed without even realising it?!.
That’d be insane, right?!
But Poductivity wouldn’t be here without those of you who helped me to strategise, plan and develop this vision.
Kieran, Ramona, Jonathan, Jess, John, Kate, Adam & so many more – and of course the amazing team at “Podcast Websites – thank you.
It’s time to do something special for the industry that we love so much, so I’m going to get my head down and get to work.
Will it be easy?
Of course not, but nothing worth it ever is.