I recently interviewed Gil Oved (The Co-CEO of The Creative Council) and Romeo Kumalo (the former CEO of Vodacom).
Just before we hit the record button I was talking to Romeo about podcasting. We discussed how the radio experience is generally depressing and started talking about podcasting. While Romeo has heard of the terms “podcasting” he didn’t know much more about it or how to access a podcast from his phone.
After building the Matt Brown Show into a global media platform, I’ve experienced this same story on numerous occasions. However, every time I’ve switched someone onto the world of podcasts they never look back and very rarely, if ever, listen to the radio once they have tried listening to a podcast.
What in The World Is a Podcast?
In 2004 Guardian newspaper writer Ben Hammersley, suggested possible names for the booming new medium, the “pod” of podcast is borrowed from Apple’s “iPod” digital media player; and the “cast” portion of podcast is taken from Radio’s “broadcast” term. Just because it’s named after Apple’s iPod, does not necessarily mean that you must own or use an iPod — or any portable digital media player for that matter — to enjoy a podcast.
Okay, so that explains the name, but what is a podcast exactly?
Do you remember the days of the Sony Walkman? If you don’t, then that’s okay because you’ll be able to relate through this short bit of history. For the first time, the Walkman enabled you to take your music with you wherever you went. Simply push play and off you went listening to your music, most likely Billy Joel’s album 52nd street – the best-selling album of 1979.
A podcast is the same as Billy Joel’s album, but with two major differences. The first difference is that you won’t use a Walkman, but instead you’ll use your smartphone. If you have an iPhone, then you already have a podcasts app pre-installed with it. Simply search for “podcast” and you’ll see this purple icon.
If you’re using an android phone go to the Google Play store and search for “podcast” and you’ll be shown several different podcast players (my personal favorites are Stitcher and Player.fm). Install any of these apps and you can join the school of cool.
The second difference is that when you listen to a podcast, you won’t hear Billy Joel’s music, but what you will hear is people talking. What are they talking about? Just about everything you can possibly think of. If you’re into Egyptian hieroglyphics there’s a show for that. If you’re into how to write a porno there’s a show for that, and if you’re into how to build small houses with matchsticks there even a show for that. There really is a show for everyone.
The point is that the world is moving towards “on demand” content and away from broadcast content like radio and traditional TV. DSTV is an on-demand content service. You can record and play shows that you like on your terms, and not when a radio station decides to air something.
Who Is Podcasting?
Podcasting has seen a surge of interest from brands and media companies over the past year. Just this year, Buzz Feed, Esquire, Vogue, InterContinental Hotels, General Electric, Tequila Avión, HBO and State Farm Insurance have started their own podcasts – even Alanis Morissette now has her own podcast.
Podcasts are booming, and it’s paying off for brands like General Electric. Their first podcast called “The Message” was downloaded over 500,000 per episode on average.
Why Most South African Brands Aren’t Podcasting — Yet
Despite the growing audience, why aren’t more brands producing their own shows? After all, brands were relatively quick to use other online publishing channels such as blogs, social media, and long form interactive stories. Podcasts have been around since the early 2000s, yet most brands don’t have a podcast. It’s nonsensical to say the least, but the simple answer is that high-quality podcasts are very difficult to pull off.
I’ve learnt this first hand from building the Matt Brown Show. Producing a successful show takes an incredible amount of work and dedicated resources and most businesses do not have the time to do that. This is the main reason why I started Matt Brown Media – a company that helps businesses with new ways to tell their story to their target audience, using a podcast.
The Benefits of Podcasting
Most brands refuse to accept the inevitable. No-one wants to hear a 30 second commercial anymore, but there is a large audience who is interested in a podcast about how a business creates value and can potentially solve a problem for them.
A podcast is a simple, yet highly effective way to convey an experience of a business, its products and services. Microsoft is doing just that, where they used a podcast to drum up excitement for the next Halo release. Microsoft created a narrative based podcast called “The Hunt” based in the Halo universe.
It ended up being a hit, and to give you an idea as to how much of an impact it made, listeners were upset that the storyline in the podcast didn’t connect with the actual game. Microsoft released two seasons so far and it’s safe to say there will be a season 3.
But, perhaps the biggest aspect of what makes a podcast truly unique, is that it can immediately deliver itself to multiple smartphone apps on any number of devices at the same time.
Listeners can easily “subscribe” to podcasts (most are free) by clicking on a subscription button. So, when a podcaster releases a new episode, subscribers are automatically notified without having to constantly check back with the podcast’s website to see if a new show has been produced. You produce it once, and thousands of listeners are notified simultaneously.
And, once someone subscribes, episodes of their favourite podcasts can be automatically downloaded — all without having to lift a finger. So, in this way, podcasts are like magazine subscriptions that are always with you, wherever you go.
The other thing that’s great about a podcast, is that it can easily be embedded in any website (you’ll note that my show is available on my website here and also on EntrepreneurMag’s website here) and any podcast can easily be shared on social media. There is no place a podcast cannot go. It’s powerful stuff.
Everything Else You Need to Know About Podcasting
There are over 1.5-billion apple, subscriptions of podcasts on iTunes. That’s approximately a quarter of the planet earth.
To quote Jonah Weiner: “Podcasts embody what is arguably the essential promise of the Internet: a means for surprising, revealing, and above all ennobling encounters with people, things, and ideas we didn’t know. Listen to enough podcasts and you may come to feel that they are not merely of the Internet, but improved, microcosmic versions of it.”
Podcasts occupy a sophisticated position within what we might call the feel-good Web — that battles the cruelty and nastiness that overflows from YouTube comments and other debacles we find on social media.
If your brand or business has been ignoring the podcast industry because it seemed too niche, it is time to reconsider — even if it’s just to explore the types of shows out there. Every business needs to own a unique space in the market, but to get the attention of your target customer is becoming increasingly difficult. Podcasting enables you to capture that attention in new ways. It’s how I built Matt Brown Media using the Matt Brown Show.
If you’d like more information on how to create a podcast for your business, please get in touch.
Is It Time To Consider Renewable Energy To Power Your Business?
Can your business afford the 33% electricity hike that Eskom is proposing? If not, you should look into some of the renewable energy options South Africa has to offer.
In the past there was load shedding, now there are proposed high price increases, and more potential load shedding due to the strike action. Many businesses previously resorted to generators as alternative energy sources, but with the growing customer demand for more environmentally conscious options, they won’t be satisfied with this alternative energy solution.
Keeping a business operating in South Africa is hard enough without losing funds every time the electricity goes out, and although generators are known as the back-up, with the increase in petrol/diesel prices is this still a feasible long-term solution?
You may want to consider a more permanent renewable energy alternative, to both reduce your electricity bill, regardless of future tariff hikes, and demonstrate that your business cares about the environment.
How Brigid Prinsloo Made (A Lot Of) Money On Airbnb
With the explosive success of Airbnb, the property investment landscape is changing. An increasing number of property owners are finding that it’s far more lucrative to rent out a property by the night than to install a long-term tenant.
It is possible to build property riches starting from a small base. This couple shows you how they did it. They’ve also launched a business that makes it easier to rent your property on Airbnb.
Although Brigid Prinsloo is a dyed-in-the-wool Capetonian who absolutely loves the city, she isn’t spending a whole lot of time there right now.
Like many young people, she’s pulled up stakes and hit the road, determined to see the world. When Entrepreneur spoke to her via Skype, she was busy exploring Vietnam with her Fiancée.
But, unlike many people who finance their travels by selling their homes and possessions, Prinsloo hasn’t liquidated her assets.
Instead, she has done the opposite – she has invested in a couple of properties that she lists on Airbnb.
The income from these rentals is significant enough to not only cover their respective bonds, but to bankroll her travels as well.
How has she managed it? And, more importantly, is it something that others can accomplish as well? Entrepreneur asked her to reveal the secrets to making a killing on Airbnb.
1. Getting Started: Listing Your First Property on Airbnb
How did you start listing on Airbnb?
I used Airbnb during a trip to London and Dublin, and the experience was a very positive one. When I got home, I decided to try being a host. My fiancé and I had a spare room in our flat, which had morphed into a dishevelled storage room.
Almost on a whim, we decided to try and rent it out on Airbnb. We had a very ‘Lean Start-up’ approach to the whole exercise. Our small room acted as a minimum viable product (MVP), we listed it simply as a way of gauging interest.
Well, within an hour of listing the room, we received our first inquiry. Within the first day, we had our first booking. We weren’t prepared.
We ended up moving our own comfy bed into the room, just to ensure our guest could enjoy a decent night’s sleep, and slept on a spare bed ourselves.
By the end of that first month, we had earned close to R10 000 by renting out the room. The rent for our entire two-bedroom flat was R10 500 per month. We realised that we could earn a tidy sum by renting out an entire flat.
My fiancée and I purchased a property that we now rent out, and I also purchased a second property with my dad and my sister, which we’ve also listed on Airbnb.
Resource: New Ways SMEs Can Find Funding
2. Return on Investment: Making Money on Airbnb
How much income can you expect to earn on your Airbnb property per month?
There are obviously loads of different kinds of listings on Airbnb – everything from cheap spare rooms to lavish mansions. Based on the investment we’ve made, though, I’m very happy with the return we’ve seen.
If you take the entire amount that my fiancée and I have earned from renting our flat out through Airbnb and divide that by the number of months that it’s been listed, the average monthly earning is about R23 000.
And this is a property that had been rented out to a long-term tenant for about R6 000 by a previous owner. What’s great about this sort of investment, of course, is that the income generated is fairly passive, which is why I can afford be in Vietnam while everything ticks over at home.
3. Birth of Superhost: An Airbnb Management Company
Is there an easy way to manage multiple Airbnb properties?
If you’re renting out one room – or even one flat – managing your rental is fairly easy. However, once you start listing a couple of properties, managing them can become quite a task.
For example, someone needs to welcome guests and hand over the keys, ensure that the flat is clean, and even take care of all the admin that goes with managing a listing on Airbnb.
We started a service called Superhost SA, which assists Airbnb hosts in managing their listings. As the popularity of Airbnb has grown, companies focusing on offer management services have popped up in lots of major cities.
Resource: 10 Businesses You Can Start Part-Time
For around 17% of the revenue earned, a company like Superhost will assist with the nitty gritty of renting out a space on Airbnb.
4. Location, Location, Location? Which is Best for Airbnb Property Owners
How important is location when it comes to listing a property on Airbnb?
Location is important, there is no doubt about it. A lot of travellers will judge a listing by what is within walking distance of the space.
So it is worth trying to get hold of a property in a decent location, even if it means you might have to go for something a tad smaller.
That said, however, you’ll find that the listings on Airbnb in Cape Town are surprisingly spread out. Services such as Uber have made it easier for people to travel in foreign cities. So location is important, but you certainly don’t need to be situated in the very heart of town.
5. How to Build An Airbnb Property Empire
Can you build real wealth through Airbnb listed properties?
Some people are using Airbnb to build empires, there’s no doubt about it. You find that some people in large cities like New York have massive Airbnb portfolios with 200 listings.
Airbnb is providing an interesting alternative to the traditional strategy of buying properties and renting them out to long-term tenants to pay them off. You can make far more money from Airbnb.
That said, Airbnb isn’t going to turn you into a multi-millionaire overnight. Building up a portfolio will take time.
We might be able to pay off the bond on our flat in four years instead of 20 thanks to Airbnb, for example, but it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. It will still take time.
Another interesting way to potentially make money through Airbnb is to rent a property and list it on Airbnb. But you don’t want to do it illegally.
Airbnb has had to deal with some backlash overseas because of tenants who were illegally subletting their flats. You need to be honest with the landlord and make sure that he or she is okay with it.
6. How to Make Your Listing Stand Out
How do you achieve and maintain a high occupancy on Airbnb?
A lot of people are noticing the income potential of being an Airbnb host. In fact, Cape Town alone now boasts close to 10 000 listings on the website. So how do you make your listing stand out? Here’s Brigid Prinsloo’s suggestions:
1. Create a pretty listing
Hide the laundry, flush the toilet and make the bed before you upload an image of your flat on Airbnb.
Not only should the flat you’re listing look clean, modern and inviting, but you should also make sure that you post excellent pictures of it online. It’s even worth making use of a professional photographer.
2. Undercut the competition
You might not be better, but you can certainly be cheaper. Undercutting the competition is a worthwhile strategy.
The more people have visited you, rated your place and commented on your service, the higher your listing will be placed on the website. This means that new hosts can find themselves languishing at the bottom of search results, far from the eyes of potential guests.
Prinsloo suggests listing your space just below the market standard (5 – 10% below). “Most people filter search results by price, so being slightly cheaper than the competition will help you get noticed,” she says.
3. Connectivity is important
Around 70% of South African Airbnb guests are from overseas.
While these people won’t be travelling thousands of kilometres to sit in a room and watch TV, they’ll probably still want access to DStv.
Wi-Fi is another must-have for those looking to share their ‘African experience’ on social media. And it better be fast and uncapped.
4. Be friendly and helpful
As mentioned, reviews are important on Airbnb. And if you want to receive a good review you need to provide a great experience.
“A lot of people are looking for that personal peer-to-peer experience. They don’t want to feel as if they’re living in someone else’s room with their clothes in the cupboard and toiletries in the bathroom, but they do appreciate that personal.
Being friendly and helpful goes a long way. If someone is from out of town, it’s a good idea to provide them with hints on where to go and what to do in the city,” says Prinsloo.
5. Add personal touches
You’re not a hotel, but you can still try to make your space as cosy and inviting as well. A good way of doing this: Provide those nice-to-haves like soap, shampoo and great coffee.
Related: 10 Tips for Finding Seed Funding
Prinsloo always provides a couple of bottles of local wine as well.
7. The Risks of Listing a Property on Airbnb
What are the risks associated with listing a property on Airbnb?
Whenever you hand over the keys to your house and possessions to complete strangers, there is an element of risk involved. However, Airbnb tries to mitigate this risk by allowing hosts to vet guests (and vice versa) to an impressive degree.
Guests and hosts verify their IDs by connecting to their social networks and scanning their official ID document. Although there are some horror stories out there, listing needn’t be terribly risky.
You just need to try and make sure who you’re dealing with.
What happens when a guest breaks a leg while descending your stairs, chops off a finger with your kitchen knife or shocks himself with your electric fence (foreigners aren’t as familiar with electric fencing as we are).
We live in an increasingly litigious society, and should something go wrong, you could find yourself being threatened with a lawsuit. Because of this, it’s a good idea to ask guests to sign a waiver that absolves your from any culpability.
It’s great when guests arrive, but what happens when they won’t leave?
Airbnb rental falls into a murky category of property rental that could see you deal with the same legal hassles as someone trying to get rid of squatting long-term tenants. Squatter’s rights can make this very difficult.
It is a good idea to consult a lawyer to help draft a contract that will offer some form of recourse in the event of squatting guests.
Some body corporates and home-owners’ associations will be less than impressed with the prospect of total strangers coming and going from your property at all hours.
You need to ensure that other home owners don’t have problem with the listing of your property on Airbnb. The last thing you want is for them to take their frustrations out on your guests.
(Podcast) Phone Calls Often Solve Email Problems
Irate customers can become your most ardent supporters, but it’s important to treat your clients like people. People like people, and phone calls are more personal than emails.
Emails solve problems – but they also create them. When a real problem arises in your business, is an email the best way to solve it, or should you pick up the phone and give your customer a more personal experience?
Irate customers can become your most ardent supporters, but it’s important to treat your clients like people. People like people, and phone calls are more personal than emails.
Listening time: 3 minutes
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