Welcome to the Grow My Podcast Show
Nov. 14, 2022

34. Ron Baetiong's 3-Step Strategy to a Building a No. 1 Podcast

Ron Baetiong used the same approach startups take to turn his podcast idea into the number one podcast in the Philippines. In this episode, Ron will show you:
1. The key things that make your podcast a category topper
2. How to validate your podcast positioning 
3. The metrics you should use to benchmark your podcast's success

"The worst enemy that you have as a podcaster is yourself."

Ron Baetiong is the founder and CEO of Pod Machine and Podcast Network Asia. He is also a podcaster and has been for three and a half years. His podcast is called Hustle Share.

This is Ron Baetiong's story...

Ron started his first business in college, and then his second startup after a few years. His third startup is Podcast Network Asia and Pod Machine.

He started Hustle Share as a way to pay forward what he's learned as an entrepreneur, and to try something new. He's grown his businesses to 320 shows across five countries, and he's here to teach us how to start a podcast the right way.

In this episode, you will learn the following:

  1. The key things that make your podcast a category-topper
  2. How to validate your podcast positioning 
  3. The metrics you should use to benchmark your podcast's success 


Related Grow My Podcast Show episodes you may enjoy:

How Experts should use Artificial Intelligence to grow their podcasts

How this Podcasting Chef went from 350 to 1700 downloads in a single month

How to Grow Your Podcast Through Targeted Podcast Pitching with Kevin Chemidlin

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Resources mentioned in this episode:

💻 Try Capsho for free here

Capsho is an AI-powered podcast marketing copywriter that creates an episode title, description, show notes, social media captions, promotional email, LinkedIn article and YouTube description AND curates a selection of quotes from your episode. All in under 10 minutes with a simple upload of your episode audio file.

Learn more about Podmachine here

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Cool. Okay, so I don't do any fancy intros, I just want you to start talking. So introduce yourself and then we'll get into your story. Hi. My name is Ron.

I am the founder and CEO of Pod Machine and Podcast Network Asia and I am also then I've been a podcaster for three and a half years now. I have a podcast called Hustle Share. It's one word, hustle and Share one word and I talk about the journeys, the struggles and the triumphs of Filipino startup founders. Amazing. OK, cool.

So take us back, tell us about your journey. How did you get into the podcasting space? How did you get, how did you start your first business which I'm guessing was Podcast Network Asia. Was that the first? Nope, this is my third startup now.

Okay, cool. And the machine was after that. Right. So technically, Podcast network Asia and Pod Machine is technically one startup. Podcast Network Asia is the name of the company, pod Machine is our product.

But my story goes all the way back in college because I've always wanted to be on radio. I wanted to be a radio job. Never actually gave it a shot because I started Hustling early and working my first startup. So I've been in the startup game for over eleven years now. The first startup was a nightlife app.

I did that for six years. It became the biggest nightlife app in Asia. It's technically what I love to do. I only make startups on things that I'm very interested to do. So unfortunately that failed.

I was a greenhorn, made too many mistakes and the compounding mistakes eventually led to its death. So I lost everything. I was humbling and still one of the most painful experience I've ever gone through. Luckily after a few months I tried again. This time it was a chatbot development agency.

It was called Chatbot PH. But twelve months after I put it up again, luck found me this time because now I have a playbook of what not to do. And what to do got acquired and I was finally able to achieve my goal which was to buy my mom house. That's all I ever wanted. And then it dawned on me.

After that I started feeling that itch again. Okay, now what? And then I remember one of the things that my mentor told me when I was just starting out was if I ever become successful, I shouldn't pay him back, I should pay forward. I said I'm not going to do that and do a talk and bask in front of a hundred seat audience and just waste my time hoping one of these people eventually become inspired. I want to maximize and also tackle one thing that I really haven't given a try yet, which is radio.

So I started doing voice lessons on how to do radio. Half of the time they were asking us how to dub. I'm like, what the hell am I doing? I'm not trying to be a dumber. I'm not trying to be SpongeBob or Patrick, okay?

Because that's what they're trying to do. But that's how I learned how to talk in front of the mic. And then I started editioning on Radio. Nobody gave me a chance. I was too old.

I was 30 years old, most of the people that are looking for young teens. So I said, you know what, I'm going to talk about one thing that I'm passionate about, which is startups anyway, and I want to pay for it. So I'll just create a podcast. Long story short, we're now three and a half episodes in. We're the number one business podcast in the Philippines.

And I've had all the most legit boundaries you can talk about and have in this region. And then because of that, I was able to create my new startup, which is Pod Machine.

Amazing. Okay, so tell us a little bit about Pod Machine. What do you do? Pod Machine basically is the solution to my personal problems as a podcaster. Alright?

So I'm an entrepreneur through and through. The scariest thing that I have is time, right? And every single time, once I record, the biggest pinpoint that I usually have is, number one, I don't have time to edit. It takes around 4 hours for me to edit one thing and including show notes and thank you capture exists now because before I have to listen to my own voice and jaw again and manually do that. My goodness, thank you, capture.

And then do the whole thing, cover arts and everything. So I said, you know what, we can automate this. So we said again, we created Podcast Network Asia to support the whole ecosystem of podcasts here. And then we projectile everything. So we do editing, we do show notes using Cap show.

Again, we're not shy about that. We do everything that you need to do that nobody likes to do, which is the back end stuff. So within 48 hours for as low as $50, we technically outsource everything to us. And then we automate everything that you want to do. And then after 48 hours, you just upload and you have a podcast already.

So cool. All right, so I want to now get into the strategy first. Before we head into the steps, I want you to more so lay the context of what it is that you're going to teach and what results people will get from this strategy. So the strategy that I use with podcasting is I always treated like a startup. So when I approach creating my first podcast, I mean my only podcast and also all the other podcasts that we always help them launch from the start, we had the same playbook.

And the mindset I'll start first with the mindset that ideas are cheap and execution is gold, right? Because most people think when they create a podcast they're like, oh my god, my podcast is going to be the most unique thing. I'll be the best mental health podcast ever, right? And with the mindset that you have to think, is that all right? Do you want to go and be like everybody else and be the next Joe Rogan?

There's hundreds of thousands of you guys out there doing that. Or do you want to go blue ocean and give a small niche of voice and be deep and be an expert about that? So the easy answer is that if you can talk about something forever for hours and hours and hours, that's how you go. Now, where do ideas are cheap and execution is all come in. Most of the time, your first idea is never going to be the final iteration of your podcast.

So you need to iterate and you need to break through that wall until you hit a certain metric that you care about to keep going. Because the worst enemy that you have as a podcaster is yourself. And that's why everybody.

Yeah, I love that. Again, I don't want to get into the steps yet. I want to talk from a results perspective. And it doesn't even have to be like numbers. I mean, I know we're going to get into some of the success metrics stuff, but do you have anything to talk to around?

Like, we've helped this many people go through this strategy and they've been able to collectively grow to this. Just something that we can kind of like baseline almost to get people to be like, oh, I want to follow the strategy. Absolutely. The strategy that we really put out. And again, I think it's working.

In the Philippines when we started, just for context, only 20% of the top 200 podcasts here were Filipino made. 80% were American shows. Like, where is everybody? How come there's so few of us, right? And I looked at it and those were the same problems.

The same problems that I had were the same problems that I saw. First off, their editing at best was very amateur. Like, you have to sound good in order to do that. So again, this is something to resolve through podcast network Asia, which we then productised through Pod Machine. Second, there was no community.

The community is the secret because the best way to grow a show is to grow it through other collapse. Now, it's hard to do that if you're a standalone because you're going to have to knock on every door. But if you have a network, which is the rising tide that lifts all boats, it's easier to get that done. And third, you need to understand your metrics because if you're just basing it off of how many listens or likes and you don't know the key things that make your podcast successful, like retention. Most podcasters don't even know what retention was before we started educating them.

And that didn't work so for context, how did we grow over the past three years? We went from five shows to literally 320 shows across five countries. Now, 25% no, sorry, let me correct myself. We're now at 32% of the top 200 podcasts in the Philippines are made by us. Even if you combine all our competitors together, we're still bigger than them.

And that's because the formula that I'm going to talk about work and in Indonesia, on 10% of the top 200 podcasts are also made by us. Those countries combined comprise around 400 million people on those populations, 144,000,000 podcast listeners in those two countries alone. So I think we figured it out. Love it. Okay, let's get into it.

I'm excited now to then jump into the three steps to start us off with step number one. What do we need to do to get our podcast? Right? Okay. So again, I am a startup guy, so a lot of what worked for me in the podcast game, I literally copied from the podcast game.

I copied from the startup game. So the first thing you got to create is a Minimum viable podcast, an MVP. In startups we call it minimum viable product. And the idea here is stop overthinking and just start creating. Now, of course, the Pat Flynn formula, you can use that one trailer, three episodes.

But when you start doing something to validate your idea or your podcast or the verticals that you want to tap into, then you can easily get feedback. That feedback can come in the form of verbal feedback or people listening to it, or it can come in the form of data. Now, in the data that you want to look for, the most important metric you look at is not the number of downloads. It's retention, basically from zero, zero all the way to the ending of your episode. How many people did you keep?

All right, there's different benchmarks, but if you get to at least keep around 40% to 50% of your audience from the ones that start all the way to the end, that means your podcast is okay, right? So where does the idea of validation and Minimum Viable podcast come in here? Because if you see that you started, say, talking about Planet Pussies, you're a podcast about platypuses, right? And you lost your audience in five minutes, and you saw that after two to three episodes and you're still talking about Planet Bushes, that means there's no market, but that doesn't mean that you should stop podcasting. Then you can now do what startups do, which is to pivot.

You change either the topic, you change the approach, you change your format. Iterate until your numbers improve, and then you then look for masses. But the most important thing in your creating your MVP, your Minimum Viable podcast, is to get that feedback. Do people care about what you're talking about? And then ask for feedback on how you were able to edit the show, the flow, the stakes are still smaller when you're starting up.

So you can reiterate, re launch a show if you want to. And when you see a rewrite moment and you see the numbers that you like, then you can keep doubling down. And do you have a threshold? Because I know that sometimes it can be not dangerous is a very extreme word, but to base a decision on a small volume so let's say you launch a podcast. You only had like five downloads, five listeners, and maybe one of them got all the way to the end of two of them or three of them.

Do you have kind of in your mind a threshold around how many listeners you want to be or is it literally just a percentage of them making. It a very good question. You want to at least get to around my number that I look at and this is what we use in PNG and podcast network Asia if you want to get to around 150 at around 150. I forgot where I got this. So I apologize if I forgot.

But around 150 downloads. Around 200 downloads per episode. Your show would be in the 50th percentile of all shows in the world. That means it has to pulse people care about what they're talking about and whatnot right now. Why is that 200 a benchmark?

Because if I look at an average, a person that has Facebook or Twitter probably going to have ballpark figure of 1000 friend, give or take. That means a fourth of your clout or immediate network. You should be able to convince them to listen to your show. But in reality, of course, we all know as a podcaster a very few number of our friends actually listen it's the strangers at once and then you know that you're actually growing to that number if you have people or strangers now looking to the show. So tying that back, it has to be a mixture of a little bit of numbers.

In terms of downloads, I'd probably be okay at around the 50 download smart. So at least there's some mass, not two or three because if you're having anything lower than ten, you got to try harder to get people to listen to your show and then of course look at their attention and iterate from there. Awesome. I love that. That is so valuable and thank you for sharing that because not a lot of people talk about retention to be honest.

It's all about the download numbers. So I love that you shared that. OK, let's get into step two. What's that for you? So step two is again, talking about metrics, not all podcasts.

Okay, let me cut that through on India for step two. Not all podcasts are created equal. So your metrics should never be apples to apples, oranges. Each category is different by default. There are categories again, depending on your niche, or the benchmark it's.

Again, very similar to startups. You can't compare an ecommerce website to a very niche web three crypto site. They're not the same. So the way you benchmark your metrics in how you define success should also be different because comparison is the thief of joy. If you say like, how come I never made it to the charts, right?

How come for me that metric varies from show to show. When I started my show, the only thing I ever wanted was to pay it forward and inspire people to keep hustling to whatever they're doing. Because I feel like entrepreneurship and startups are not being talked about. And the metrics I had internally was very simple and I'll share it with you. First off, I'm a startup founder, time is money.

So I want to make sure that at least in the first season I should have my own sponsorship to incentivize me to keep going. So when the going gets up, I'll remember at the back I'll cheat myself and say hey, you owe something to someone, I'm a Lannister and I should pay my debt. OK? I should keep going, right? So I wanted to monetize my show to incentivize me in case I hit the wall.

Second, I want to get that feedback where I'm able to pay forward and once I get those strangers randomly messaging me on LinkedIn, emailing, Facebook, whatever, that they got inspired. They were able to get a job, they were able to get investment, like I'm doing my job. That's what I wanted, I wanted to pay for it. And third, of course I want to benchmark it to be one of the best in my category. I don't want to be number one.

Luckily I'm number one in my category but I'm looking at it around the the world in my category and the way I look at it is that okay, so I use this tool called Listen Notes. It's a search engine of podcasts. So I look at my contemporaries in other countries. Of course US is overblown because that's like the Mecca of podcasting. But say I look at a podcast, say in Vietnam or in Singapore, that talks about startups as well and there they will tell you what percentile your show is and if you're in the same percentile as them, then okay, I'm in the same neighborhood, not too shabby, alright?

I'm not trying to be number one, but I'm trying to be the best in my category or at least one of the best. And then it's not zero sum. If I see other startups that are also doing the same, instead of competing with them, I collab with them because there is always going to be an audience overlap and we can always collab and help each other out.

Awesome. I love that. Can you talk us through some of your specific success metrics that you look at day in, day out, or week in week out and maybe even how frequently you do do that. Sure. One of the things that I always look out, which not a lot of people actually do, is how my long tail and my evergreen podcasts perform or episodes.

So the way I define long tail is that typically the behavior of my listeners is that it takes them around eight weeks to consume. As a shelf life of one newly released episode, around 30 days, I get around 70% of that and then becomes long tail and windows down. One of the things that I really make sure is that, okay, out of, say, every month, I should probably have an evergreen show. So evergreen show, I look at my monthly downloads and I look at any episode that's beyond eight weeks from publishing on that month. That means that has a really long shelf life and people still care about that right now.

That means it's a valuable episode that people keep going back to. It's still going to get downloads 2345 years from now. Again, it's because I put in so much of my heart and soul in each episode. I want to make sure that at least I'm still able to push it forward. Immortalizing that guy's story and the lessons that is again, very unique to what I'm looking at other startups that I've seen, I mean, podcasts that I've seen, chase Chase rankings.

I need to be X amount. And that's cool. It's just hard to compete with that because there's always going to be this new podcast that will dethrone you. Right. And yeah, that's it.

Yeah. Awesome. Just so I know, you know how you mentioned like really niche down and talking. Do you want to do that as part of this step or do you want to do as part of the third step? I actually forgot my last time.

I was writing notes. You're talking building clouds was kind of building cloud, right? Yes. So you're going to talk about the niche bit in that? Yeah, sorry.

That's a good segue through it. 3210h. Sorry. I'm just giving your editor, whoever's going to edit verbal cue of where you're going to cut it. Cut it here.

I usually do that with me cut it. Yeah. Okay. So my third step is all about building cloud and building an audience. Again, podcasts the best way now to grow a podcast around it.

But you don't do that when you have a podcast already. You do that prior. It's like you preheat the oven so that when you put the pizza, it would cook nicely. Right. Because at the end of the day, what you want to be able to do is be a key opinion leader on that vertical that you choose to talk about.

And that's where I see most people fail. Because when people release a podcast, all of a sudden they've never talked about it before in the chosen social media that they're most powerful in. So like for me, I saw that people engage with me the most on Facebook and LinkedIn before I even started talking about startups and created a podcast around it. People already know that I talk about this and how do I measure basic things like do people engage the people comment, do people reply to that? If you're younger then do people care about your videos?

On TikTok? You preheat the oven to a certain size and then again hopefully you get to around 150 and then hopefully some of them does convert. So when you release that content you tease it and then if people convert then people already know that you are a voice to listen to or a representative of that niche. When you launch, you don't start when you have the podcast ready, always preheat the oven. That's super cool.

So when we talk about that, I know you mentioned it from going from the startup world like you already you had your own startups, you exited and then from that point I'm assuming you were preheating the oven and then you're like hey, I have this podcast now, people can listen to it. And then how did you almost did you use that as a vehicle to then grow? And I'm assuming it's a yes, but I kind of want to hear from your perspective to grow PNA and pop machine. Yes. So since now all of a sudden startups again, I've been talking about this for years now, right?

But all of a sudden I have this new medium and by virtue of me being the first mover, I was the loudest voice in the room, literally and figuratively. So I now incidentally started talking about podcasts and then I saw an opportunity like wow, the startup ecosystem in Southeast Asia resembled the podcast ecosystem here. There's nobody taking care of grassroots, nobody is really doing all the dirty work nurturing all these shows like alright, looks like I've seen this before and I was shameless like I'm just going to copy what worked in the startup ecosystem. So when we created our podcast network, our approach was very much like a startup accelerator. We saw those podcasts that had traction and doubled down and invested everything that we can and then let them fly one by one.

That's why we're able to grow that fast. And then again we just realized that superpower like oh my God, we were able to grow to around 200 shows. Nobody's ever done that in this region before. But our superpower is that we can actually do this for everyone for cheap. Hence we then productised for pod machines.

If we can do it for a Filipino show which again spoken in English anyway, we can do it for an American show for the cheapest way possible. And the reason why we're able to do that is to arbitrage because we already have those resources ready. Anyway, you have a big team, why not just build a product on top of that. Hence pod machine also. So cool.

Okay, so tell us a little bit about how Pod Machine works. So Pod Machine, honestly, it started out as an in house product that we built to solve our own problems because at one point we had 200 plus shows and we had 200 plus group chat and Viber Messenger and WhatsApp we couldn't talk to our families and 70% of the questions that were thrown there were repetitive in nature. It's like we got to automate this. And again, the company that I sold before that was a chat bot company. I was like, let's build a chatbot.

This whole thing streamlined everything so that the whole thing also did it. We also made since the scale, we had to change the way we edit as well. We turned that into production line. So instead of having one poor sale doing everything at the end, we dice it up into small mini processes. So it's also faster and cheaper to get it done.

Especially with show notes, right? Who wants to do show notes manually? You need to use capture. We use Capture to get that done, right? Shameless plug right there.

They're the best in the business. Love you guys. Okay, so I think we have a very common goal that we're aiming for our clients and where I want to go with this as well is and I probably edit this thing because I kind of narrate like I overlay narrations on this. So I am going to be talking about the type of people who maybe have used capture. I realized that it wasn't for them because they don't want to do anymore and I want to push them to publishing.

Right? So that's kind of in my mind what I want to do at the end of. But can you talk about the whole like saving what is almost the mission or the vision that you have for Pod Machine as it relates to your clients? You know what I mean? In terms of them saving time, doing I don't know what those things are but yeah, just start going.

I totally agree. And by virtue of just looking at the profile of who our podcasters are here in Southeast Asia and in all over the world, they're all the same. They're all busy people doing this Honda side. I can name in a couple of handfuls how many people are actually making this as their own living it's few and far between regardless if they're in the US or here. So if their main hustle is something else, the scariest thing that they have is time.

And we even run a survey in podcast Network Asia prior to creating Pod Machine, what's the most important thing we provide and it's their ability to then not worry about the editing and all the dirty work part. And we asked them if we took that out, which is in podcast, I mean startups that was a determinant of product market fit if your startups ceased to exist or will they have a huge void and they said yes, okay. And then we looked at it like, oh, in our clientele and pod machine it's the same. Nobody wants to do the dirty work. And once you start getting all that 4 hours per episode back, you don't ever want to go back.

Never again. Because now it's 4 hours. Say if you just use 1 hour of that to look for better guests, to have a better flow to your podcast, you have 3 hours back that you can do whatever the hell you want. That's awesome. Okay, so that segues really well into my final or second to final question for you, which is can you describe your ideal golden hour?

You might call bull. But my golden hour, usually I have a weird body clock. I wake up at around seven because of what time I sleep. That's the old farting. But my golden hour is when I come in and I remove any obstacle for my team.

That's the very first thing in my mind, my team that is in service of all these podcasts that we do. So when I say remove any obstacle, I delegate everything that I can. If I see a blocker, I remove that thing and I start making sure that everybody, when clock hits nine, everything's laid out, I delegate because then I'm able to zoom out and zoom in on certain things. Like are we editing things right? Is my finance okay?

Everything is okay. Then I remove any type of anxiety that I might have accrued overnight. And it's golden because when I see one at clock it's nine and you see everything in unison and working, it's a thing of beauty then yeah, that's a golden hour. Awesome. I love that.

Just to add to that, do you have anything? Because when we talk about saving time, saving those 4 hours, for example, like for you when you think about saving time, is it so that you can work on the business and have that kind of golden hour that you just described? Or is it so that you can have time to do other things that you want to be pursuing outside of even work? What does that mean to you? And it's still a gift that keeps on giving because if you waste those 4 hours listening to your own voice, then by the time you're done, you don't even want to listen to anything anymore.

Those extra 4 hours I use now is I get to do two things that are very important in my life now at this stage. Number one, I get to exercise. So I get to ride my bike for a good hour. And while riding my bike, I get to listen to other podcasts. Right?

Wow. Okay. I do two things I'm enriching because I'm picking up like oh, I like how he asked. That question. Right.

And I'll be able to then replicate and I also learn new things at the same time, which again just goes back to whatever I do in preparation for that golden hour as well. All just because I was able to save time. Yes, I love that. Okay, so then my last question is basically your call to action. So can you just go into where do you want people to find you?

Okay, so if you want to get your 4 hours back and you are a podcaster and nobody got time for that, you don't want to edit your own show. We've made it so affordable to make it like hundreds and hundreds of podcasts that are now using Pod machine. Just check out Podmachine.com if you need help with your editing. Whether it's a video podcast, we do audio grams, video graphs, and of course the most important thing, show notes. We use cap show.

But if you don't want to do Cap show on yourself, we use capture and we'll even do the dirty work for you so we can double check that stuff. We're completely transparent on what we use on that one because prior to capture we were toiling our assets. It's very hard to create show notes. But now again, capture is the best. And thank you very much again Deedra, or having me on the show.

Awesome. Thanks Ron. 

Ron BaetiongProfile Photo

Ron Baetiong

Ron Baetiong is the founder and CEO of Pod Machine and Podcast Network Asia. He is also a podcaster and has been for three and a half years. His podcast is called Hustle Share.