Episode 233 | Posted on

Building an Audience Through Ingenuity and Hustle with Melissa Monte

Who knew that mindset, metaphysics, and marketing dovetailed so well! Often on the podcast, I talk about becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable, not just in marketing but in life. I’ve always been a firm believer in taking risks or you’ll remain in a safe bubble and you may miss out on some genuinely enlightening experiences. 

My guest today is a fellow personal development geek. Melissa Monte is the host of the hugely popular podcast Mind Love. As an entrepreneur and former VP of Marketing, Melissa has applied her strategic mindset to achieve explosive growth. Forbes named her show the #1 Podcast for your Life and Career, and now she’s spilling her secrets. 

I’m really excited to have her here with us today to talk about creative ways to get a foot in the door, whether it’s by barging in, stealing the mic, or sometimes sneaking in through the back door—whatever it takes. We also talk about the power of vulnerability in marketing, how we can get out of our own way. Stay tuned for a really inspiring show!

In This Episode

  • [00:29] – Stephan introduces Melissa Monte, host of the podcast, Mind Love.
  • [02:46] – Melissa shares the story of how Mind Love began.
  • [06:46] – Melissa explains the challenges and strategies she experienced on the day of launching her podcast.
  • [13:59] – How being bold and taking risks paid off for Melissa.
  • [22:45] – How building professional relationships within the podcast community immensely helped Mind Love’s exponential growth.
  • [26:32] – Melissa gave advice on how to connect with your listeners for engagement.
  • [33:54] – Several tips on how to get people to write a review about your podcasts.
  • [45:09] – Melissa’s top takeaways from Pat Flynn’s courses.
  • [51:53] – Different ways of implementing a successful digital marketing strategy.
  • [55:36] – Connect with Melissa on her social media accounts and tune in to her podcast, Mind Love.

Jump to Links and Resources


Great to have you here, Melissa. It’s great to see you.

Thank you so much for inviting me. 

We last saw each other at HPS (Heroic Public Speaking). You were taking the graduate program as well as me and Orion, my wife. I’m just curious because we’ve had Michael on this show recently. He was on my other show, Get Yourself Optimized several years ago, talking about speaking and performance. That course was a game-changer for me. What was the top takeaway for you?

For me, it really helped me find my story. For such a long time, I was building other people’s dreams instead of my own. It was what started my podcast. I wanted to start laying a foundation for myself and using a lot of my marketing knowledge to build my own dreams. I had so many storylines, so many things that I’ve struggled with, and so many ways I could go with it that I was focusing on a broader spectrum until that course, which really helped me drill down what my unique value proposition is and what I could bring, whether it’s to my own podcast, to different courses. It changed how I worked with people.

Yeah, for me too. It’s been a game-changer. I’m a much better storyteller. I’m much more precise, deliberate, and intentional. I just loved what I’ve learned. Let’s talk about your podcast. You’ve had an origin story for that podcast. I’d love for our listeners to understand how you got started and why.

I started listening to podcasts years and years ago when none of my friends knew what a podcast was. I would dabble here and there. The first podcaster that I felt like I developed that one-sided relationship with was Pat Flynn. I remember sitting on the floor in Big Bear, thinking, “One day, I’m going to be on this show.” He just had this younger girl on that made $1,000,000 through webinars. I was like, “I can do that.” I was dabbling. 

Then I got a job offer and lost that. I was building another company again. I reached a point in that career where the CEO was a pretty toxic human to work for. It was really stressing me out. It was starting to move from just my work relationship to my other relationships. I would snap at my husband, then, he’d be like, “Do you realize you’ve just got off the phone with your boss?” I’m like, “Oh my gosh. This is what I’m learning about.” My biggest passion was actually learning how to save my own life.

It was a two-way street. I had a pretty good life on the outside but nobody really knew I was crumbling on the inside. While I’m still able to be successful with businesses and with my job, I was also dealing with bulimia, depression, and all these different things. I’ve got to this point of realizing that I needed to learn these tools if I was going to survive. It was doing that at the same time. I’ve learned all these things and I’ve got to this great place. I would tell my friends, “You need to get out of harmful situations. Get out of toxic situations.” Yet, I was still allowing myself to be in this toxic relationship at work. I’ve got to this point where I thought, “I need to do something different.” 

I drill down to all these exercises on how to find your passion, when my happiest times have been, what people come to me for—all these exercises. I’ve read about them in books before. I thought, maybe just learning about them, it was going to automatically apply itself to my life, but no. It wasn’t until I took a notebook and started doing these things that I started to realize, “Wait, this is my deepest passion. It’s not just the marketing, it’s what’s a market? What to get out there to people?” That brought about the idea of Mind Love.

No matter how savvy your marketing skills are if you don't focus on quality, you're going to have a leaky bucket. Click To Tweet

I wasn’t yet bold enough to completely quit my job. I started this on the side as a little side project. It did work. It kept me happy. It kept me inspired. Within about three months, I realized, “Okay, I can do this. I needed to have some sort of evidence for myself that I could be successful with my own stuff.” Up until then, I was just too chicken to do it for myself and I was doing it for other people. I quit my job. I wasn’t making money yet, but within two more months, I was already able to bring in some sponsorship money. I was speaking up on a panel at Podcast Movement on how I achieved such quick growth.

At the same time, the podcast idea occurred because I realized I get a little overwhelmed with writing. I would get too perfectionist. It would take me days to write one blog post. YouTube videos, I could always talk myself out of because I didn’t want to get ready and put on makeup. Podcasting was really perfect for what I had to offer. I’ve also got comments on my voice and things like that. It just really seems to fit me.

The very next day, within three days of deciding that, Pat Flynn announced his first podcasting course. That was the first time I really just went all in, really invested in myself, and took his course. It was a pretty rapid growth from there.

Awesome. We’ll talk more about his course in a few minutes. I want to hear some of your top takeaways. Before that, how did you achieve such quick growth that you deserved to be on a panel at Podcast Movement? I’ve actually pitched Podcast Movement three times and I have not got in yet. Very frustrating. Somehow, you had a compelling story that they’re like, “We got to get this lady on stage.”

I will say that so much of my growth has come from my relationships with other people. I’ve been really great at nurturing the relationships of people who helped me in one way or another. When I launched my podcast, it started my very first little weird growth hack, which was the day I launched the podcast, it was actually almost exactly two years ago, December 5, 2017. I woke up super early, all ready to go to my co-working space, and share the news about this podcast. This is my launch day.

Soon as I opened my door, I was hit by this black cloud of smoke. Apparently, there were a ton of fires in LA. My first thought at this moment because I had a one-track mind, unfortunately, it was not about all the damage it was doing, but, “Man, fewer people are going to be at my co-working space to talk about my podcast.” Shows how desensitized we are about the fires though. I went to get some smoke masks. When I was in the nearest CVS by my co-working space. I just decided, “If I’m thinking about a smoke mask, other people must be too.” There’s going to be fewer people at my co-working space, so I need to make sure I optimize how many people I can tell about my show.

I bought out all the smoke masks. I went to my co-working space. I put up a little booth at Floor 2, posted it in the WeWork Network, “Come to Floor 2. Free smoke masks.” Every time somebody comes, I convince them to subscribe to my podcast and leave a review. I would tell them about it. I’m not sure this particular thing moved the needle that much although I did get my first 30 something reviews on my very first launch day. 

There was something about taking that action that changed my mindset. It got me to think in a different way about just being bold, about where I shared my podcast. There’s something I noticed a lot of entrepreneurs do in the very beginning where they have this thing they’re working on and they want everyone to know about it, but they’re also somehow keeping it a secret in their own circles. Like, they’re afraid it’s going to fail or they’re afraid somebody’s going to think it’s silly or whatever. This got me out of that from the get-go. 

From then, I just started to think, at the time Apple wasn’t updating New & Noteworthy at all. I thought, “If I’m going to be featured anywhere, I need to think outside the box.” Even if you just set a goal like that with yourself, I think the brain will start to come up with ideas that you didn’t think were possible for you to think of. You might not think I’m a creative person or you might not think I have a marketing mind. It just takes putting your foot out there. Taking really tangible action on anything as dumb or as small the idea is, your brain will start to come up with more things.

I decided to download every third-party podcasting app and look for which ones have their own featured sections that were guaranteed to be updated more than Apple’s New & Noteworthy. Then I began the process of building relationships with those people. I followed them all on social media whether it was Castbox, Podcast App, anything that came out even if it was brand new. I would just try to connect with people on LinkedIn and pitch my show to them.

I also had to think, because my show was brand new, maybe there are only a few episodes. Why would they feature my show above other people who might have already had an influence? I started with zero lists, zero audiences, and no connections at all. I had to think of how I could get it to be good enough to feature me. 

I had a 20-episode plan to edit my show in a completely different way that I was going to do in the future. I needed to have this stop because if I thought I was going to do this for every episode for the end of time, I would’ve overwhelmed myself. It took me about eight hours to edit each episode. When somebody was telling a story, I would put immersive sound effects, and just make it stand out for a short period of time. When I pitched this brand new show, I not only used all the validation I could for anywhere else in my life, but I also said, “This will be unlike any mindfulness interview show that you can hear.”

Don’t hesitate to share your gifts especially when you can help others improve their lives.

I was learning how to pitch it. I would actually track which pitch has worked and which didn’t. All of those things combined, the quality was definitely a huge part of that. No matter how savvy our marketing skills are, if you don’t focus on that quality and you think, “I’ll just start this as a side thing and throw up an interview with no editing, no thought into it,” you’re going to have a leaky bucket. You’ve got a thousand people to come but you need to make sure they’re going to stay at the same time. You’ve got to focus on both sides of that.

That was all fantastic. I just loved your go get them attitude. It reminds me of Les Brown’s famous quote, “You’ve got to be hungry.” I don’t know if you’ve heard that before. I just loved how he says that. “You’ve got to be hungry,” and you are hungry. 

It goes beyond marketing, to growth hacking, to figuring out, “How can I work my way in the door? Maybe even go backstage and meet the star of the show?” Let’s just dream big.

I learned this from a negotiating seminar in the 90s. Way back when, “Aim higher, you’ll do better.” You aim for the stars and you might’ve even hit it. That’s what you did. You just really went out the gate going for first place. I applaud you for that.

I have a somewhat similar story of growth hacking my way into my previous business that I eventually sold 15 years later. I did a bit of growth hacking myself. I had no clients. I was up to my eyeballs in student loan debt. I just dropped out of my Ph.D. to start this agency. I hadn’t had any business classes or marketing classes. I was just winging it. I talked my way into this conference that normally was $2000–$2500 to attend. I didn’t have the money, so I got in for free as a volunteer.

They gave me the job of mic runner. I was running around with the microphone during Q&A. I’ve got the mic and these guys up on stage don’t really know online marketing as I do. I was just a cheeky 23–24-year-old. I just decided to start chiming in and help answer the questions because they weren’t being adequately answered by the panelist. I totally upstaged them. I got a big stack of business cards by the end of that day. I ended up with two big accounts that were worth each $500,000 apiece in customer lifetime value.

I didn’t need to get any angel investing or anything. That was what my seed money, just landing on these two accounts. I was also de-invited from volunteering on day two because, apparently, I have ruffled some feathers with some of the speakers.

That’s hilarious. That actually reminds me of 2009. I won a contest online and got free tickets to the Traffic & Conversion Summit. At that time, I was in Austin. In the end, I don’t know if they still do this, they always used to have the Wicked Smart Competition at the end. You can share any internet marketing secret that you could. I was sitting at the back of the room. I was one of the only women at that time. Even at that conference, it was very heavily more men than women. I felt like I was the youngest woman there, too. I just felt out of place. 

People were sharing their marketing tricks. I was this 23-year-old trying to do everything for free. I was not willing to invest in any of the marketing yet. I was finding Torrents and downloading courses and stuff. I have these weird hacks that nobody was using that now are considered black hats. I went out there and I ended up winning the contest, and that set up my freelance group for the next two years. It’s like weaseling your way in. It really does pay off. People are just too afraid to do it. You’ve got to realize, not a lot of people are that bold. You’ve really had a good chance if you take that risk.

A good job on that, by the way. That reminds me of a friend of mine. I won’t name him because he didn’t authorize me to share this. He was a member of Abundance Digital which is Peter Diamandis‘ online program for futurism and all the cool stuff that’s coming—3D printing, nanotechnology, AI, etc. He’s in the digital version. I’m in Abundance 360, which is the in-person version which is markedly more expensive. It’s $15,000 to attend a 3-day event. It’s a whole other level.

He hears when the event is in where it is. As a digital member, he can watch the live stream but he started hanging out in the general area where the event was. He was working his way closer and closer. Then he actually got through the backdoor hanging out with some of the folks who were pretty top-tier people in the Abundance 360 community like Dan Sullivan. He’s hanging out with Dan Sullivan in the backstage at the event that he doesn’t even have a ticket to. 

I think, “Wow. You’ve got gumption there. That’s impressive.” Anyway, I’m not endorsing these techniques by any stretch. Just be hungry, get out there, and be willing to be uncomfortable. The quality of your life is directly proportional to how comfortable you are with being uncomfortable. I think that’s the lesson in life, not just in marketing.

For sure, yeah. I’ve been taking weird risks my whole life. It really makes my mom nervous, but I’m now finally starting to funnel them into something that’s going to create something good rather than just throwing it out there. 

If we don't seek the challenges on our own, then they're going to find us in a way that's out of our control. Click To Tweet

Being comfortable in the uncomfortable, I believe that if we don’t seek those challenges on our own, then they’re going to find us in a way that’s out of our control. It was really no downside to actually push yourself more than you think you can go.

That’s kind of a spiritual concept. It reminds me of something I learned in Kabbalah class. If you are proactive in going after ways to evolve your consciousness to elevate your soul, then there’s a lot of blessing in that. Otherwise, we tend to get hit with these unfortunate traumatic experiences which, after the fact, makes us who we are, reveal all these light, and make all these opportunities possible for us, all these growths, but at the time, it’s hell on earth or it feels that way.

Go after the stuff proactively. Get outside your comfort zone because then you can reveal a lot more light in the world, which is what you do on a weekly basis in your show. You’re out there revealing light and helping people to evolve, expand, and elevate.

I realized that at some point when I said I was in this dark pit in my life, there were so many things out of my control, but it seemed that the more victim mentality I kept in that, the more self-sabotage I seemed to do. It was this endless vicious cycle. I’ve definitely found, as I started to climb out of that, as I’ve started to find my own way, a big part of that is being vulnerable, and sharing these things instead of holding onto our shame. 

We’re all walking around like there’s something wrong with us or with something that we’re afraid to share with other people. When I started sharing my own, I realized how not alone I am. I started to feel like it’s my duty. I learned these things, so it’s my duty to share with whoever needs to hear that in my own way.

I think so many of us were, “This is already being done,” or, “People are already saying this,” or, “How am I ever going to match this person?” No one’s going to say it exactly how you say it or how I say it. I’m going to attract my own tribe based on not just the message I have but the person that I am and how I’ve got here. It’s definitely served me well.

Speaking of shame, that’s a powerful disincentive for getting outside of your comfort zone, growing, and evolving. Funny, that story that I shared about being a mic runner volunteer was something I didn’t share with anybody for 17 years. Then I realized, “Wait a second, what am I ashamed of?” Yeah, I was essentially kicked out of the conference, but I would never have done it differently. 

Knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have done the same way. It was this huge shortcut to success that saved me, who knows how many months or years in my trajectory. If I just released any kind of shame that I have and share the lessons from these sorts of things—there are plenty of situations where something embarrassing or whatever—I just got to let go of it and share the lesson, then it doesn’t have its hold on me anymore. That’s the gift for me. The gift for others is they get to learn from it without going through the embarrassment themselves.

I know. It’s really funny. It’s just the shift in perspective. You can see all those stories from either side. I can see where you came from being ashamed that you’re kicked out from a conference, but there’s also this other side, the way that I absorbed it and the way that I heard it was that was awesome. That’s something that more people should do. Those risks that people take for their goals. I would’ve never assumed to even hold shame over that. 

I got kicked out of George Clooney‘s house by the secret service once. I never even thought to be ashamed of that. I thought that’s hilarious.

That’s something to be proud of. That’s impressive. Good job.

I didn’t break-in. I crashed the party.

Okay, that’s still impressive though. Now, the shame that I had kind of juxtaposed with this proud moment I had. Not only did I get the accounts that I got, but I also got invited to speak at an upcoming event which was six months later. It was three months after the event after I got kicked out of how to market on the internet, I got invited to speak at, share, and do a post-conference workshop on how to market educational programs on the internet.

That launched my speaking career. I was horrible, I was embarrassed, I was bad at speaking, especially at sharing. You have to be so witty and on it the whole time, keep the energy up in the room. I was a trainwreck at that. I did a terrible job, but I was committed to getting really good at it. Tony Robbins said that repetition is the mother of skills, so I’m going to keep at it.

These different conference organizations poach each other’s speakers. Soon, as I showed up on a brochure from IQPC, IRR started poaching me and asking me to speak at all of their events. I got other invites, too. I kept speaking at IQPC events, etc. I just started saying yes to everything.

By now, I’ve done thousands of speeches over the years. It was just ironic to end up getting invited to speak, chair, and workshop by the same organization but a different conference organizing person. Clearly, they don’t speak to each other. That was hilarious.

I really do feel those relationships that we make, no matter how we make them, that really push us forward. Even now when I go to Podcast Movement, I almost didn’t go last year. At the last minute, I got invited to speak with Pat Flynn, so I made the last-minute trip. When I left, I realized, “Okay, I can’t miss this conference anymore because I made the most of it.” I was putting all this money out there, that’s why I wasn’t going to go because I’d still been trying to build my business. I was trying to be smart with my money. I ended up putting a bunch on credit cards to get there.

Keep improving. Keep learning. Stay hungry.

I thought, “If I’m going to be spending this money, I’m going to make the most of it.” Which is something I really learned back in those days in the early 20s where I was always trying to get it for free. Nothing penetrated. When I really started to invest money in myself, I’m like, “This won’t be a waste of money.” While I was there, I hung out in all the booths at Podcast Movement. I didn’t leave until I was actually friends with the marketing guy from Spotify, Stitcher, and whatever. Now, I have this Rolodex of people that I reach out to if I have a big episode. 

That came from nurturing the relationships within the podcasting community, which sounds like you did with conference organizers as well, even if you didn’t really know you’re doing it at that time.

I definitely made a lot of great relationships in the conference circuit with fellow speakers, conference organizers, CEOs, attendees, and so forth. It’s been the biggest revenue-generating marketing channel of everything I’ve done, the conference speaking. I’ve easily generated eight figures by now in revenue from speaking, bringing in leads that converted into two good-sized contracts. It definitely pays.

It makes sense because you don’t have to convince people you’re an expert. Just by nature of you being there, you’ve already shown that, then you just have to back it up. I loved that.

The Art of SEO by Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, & Jessie Stricchiola

One of the ways I backed it up is to hand out copies for free of this thousand-page book that I co-author, The Art of SEO. That’s some pretty serious social proof. I certainly can’t throw it out from the stage. I’ll hurt people. People come running up to the stage to get free copies once they start to realize that I got more than one that I’ll give away. It’s a mix for quite a little spectacle. It’s pretty fun.

You got to get photos of that.

I have some. Let’s talk about some of the milestones that you have reached with your podcast; when and what kind of milestones these were.

Around the sixth-month mark, I was not only invited to a panel hosted by Jordan Harbinger. I also was just getting my first sponsorship money. It wasn’t that much, but that largely had to do with relationships I built with third party podcast apps. It’s really beneficial to look at companies that are growing and that are still in the brink, but also going quickly because chances are they have little opportunities and they’re more willing to work with podcasters. Especially, if you can back up with the quality of your work. None of this stuff will work if you’re just throwing your show together. That needs to be 70% of your focus. It’s the quality of your show and just little things to make it stand out.

I reached over a million downloads within my first year. I have been in the top charts for both health & fitness and education categories. I reached number 11. It was very brief but it meant a lot to me. I’m usually in the top 200 of health and fitness now. It’s just often in there. I peaked at number two. Being featured in Forbes and Harper’s Bazaar was also really exciting to me. I think most of it is just receiving so many emails from people every single day. Really understanding how the work is touching people’s lives. 

All of those other things are a little boost in motivation or validation. It’s not quite as meaningful if I wasn’t hearing from my listeners all the time. Part of how I stay so connected is by really connecting with them and seeing what they want. I sent out surveys every three months or so to understand what their number one struggle is. That way I know not only their struggles but also how they’re saying it. The words that they’re using. The more advance that you get in your craft, the harder it is sometimes to relate to people at the beginning of the journey. 

Understand who you’re trying to speak to and how to do that, keep a person in mind. Those things really help. Other things are, be really specific about how you want your audience to engage with you. If you want them to share, if you want them to review, don’t give out 17 CTAs per episode. Be really deliberate on what and why you want them to do it. 

One thing that’s really helped with the growth of my show, a lot of my show has grown through word of mouth. I ask people to share. I just don’t ask people to share, I tell them how to share. There’s a couple of different ways that I do this. I say, “Take a screenshot and post it on Instagram. Tag Mind Love Podcast or Mind Love Melissa.” Those things, actually being descriptive of taking a screenshot. Just say, “Share this episode.” People don’t always know how to share the episode. Where do you hang out most? What platform are you trying to grow? Maybe it’s Twitter, maybe it’s Instagram, whatever. Be specific about how to share with that platform even if it’s, “Press the share button located right here and share.” That’s how.

The most important thing to me is the relationships I build because I know that they’re an investment that'll always come back to me. Click To Tweet

If you tell somebody who to share it with, the moment somebody gets it in their mind about who needs to hear this episode, it increases the likelihood that they’re going to share this tenfold. For example, I have an episode on breakups. At the end and at the beginning, I said, “Everyone has that friend who just can’t seem to get over her ex or who’s still wallowing in their last relationship or can’t hold a relationship,” whatever it is that’s really descriptive of who needs to hear that, and they’ll get somebody in their mind. Then they will share the episode with that person. They won’t be able to let it go because next time they see that person, they’re going to attach that memory. Things like that, just being so deliberate with how you want your strategy to be, even if you don’t know it’s going to work. It can be really helpful.

That is awesome. I love, especially what you’re talking about with somebody in mind that can benefit from listening to this episode. Put that person into your mind right now. I do that very thing, not with my show. I really need to do that but with my speaking. Oftentimes, in the beginning, I will tell people in the audience, “Your retention rate on average will be at best 30%. It’s just not very high. That’s at best. If you want to increase it to something like 90%, the hack for that is to simply think of someone who you can teach what you’re learning here in my talk to others. Somebody who can usually benefit from what you’re about to learn today and what you’re going to teach them.”

For example, my oldest daughter started doing SEO and blogging at 14 years old. She had passive income coming in. Sometimes up to $1000 a month. By 16, she was speaking on stages. She spoke at BlogHer, YPulse and so forth, and that launched her career. Now at 28, she’s got her own SEO firm. She’s been on MSNBC. If I hadn’t inspired her, I don’t do the work for here, I just inspired her, gave her some of the tools, and some of the guidance, imagine what you could do with your child, partner, best friends, aunt, uncle, parent, just by teaching them some of the technique you’re about to learn. That’s a game-changer for the rest of the session. They’re so much more engaged. 

I do that on my speaking but not on the podcast. I really need to do that. Thank you.

And take that to another level. Know the type of child that needs to hear this the most. The child who’s always asking extra questions or they have a little entrepreneurial spark or they’re trying to set up a lemonade stand at six, something that’s going to really say, “That’s my kid.” They’re not doubting like, “Maybe they could be good at that. Maybe not.” By being even more specific about the children that might help, by the person that might help. We doubt the people that don’t need to. It really attaches itself to the people that do.

That’s related to the concept that you mentioned of really understanding who you’re speaking to. Keep that person in mind, that ideal podcast listener, customer avatar. That’s a powerful tip and strategy. Often, folks don’t even go to the effort of putting down on paper what kind of person they’re trying to reach—demographics, psychographics, click graphics, fears, frustrations, wants, aspirations, philosophical problems, internal problems, external problems. None of that. They don’t figure any of that out and they just wing it. What a mistake.

I actually take every step. I always have a running Google doc that I have titled, Language of my Customers. This started by, first, going into other people’s audiences, copying and pasting specific pain points. Searching for things like “frustrated,” or “how do I…” or just little phrases like that. Including Instagram of some of the people that were related to my industry that I was emulating. Now, it comes in not only podcast reviews but also emails I get from people. If I hear a little chunk of, “Oh, I liked the way they said that.” I put it in the language of my customers because not only will that speak to episode ideas but it’ll also speak to how I write the descriptions in my sales pages and marketing emails.

Great stuff. That’s something I live and breathe as an SEO expert. I tell my clients they need to really understand the language of their customers, the terminology that they’re using, that they’re typing into Google. I would give an example. Oftentimes, when I’m teaching this concept of a past client, Kohl’s department stores, and how their CEO was fixated on ranking for the term “kitchen electrics.” I just thought that was ridiculous. Nobody’s searching for kitchen electrics. Nobody even knows what it is. Kitchen electrics are small kitchen appliances like a toaster, food processors, blender, that sort of thing. It sits on the countertop, typically. 

Who knows that? Who uses that? Their common vernacular just doesn’t happen. If you’re number one for kitchen electrics, don’t bother patting yourself in the back because it’s completely irrelevant to anybody, except for that CEO who’s searching, maybe a competitor, too. Definitely, it’s a great advice.

Always remember these three words: strategy, foresight, and forethought.

I’m curious as to how do you get people to put the reviews that you want to see into iTunes, or Apple Podcast, or Stitcher, or other platforms? The language of the customers like the challenges they’re facing, or their objections for hiring you as a coach, or working with you, or signing up for your online courses, or anything like that. If we could incorporate into those reviews some of the objections, then those reviews aren’t just thumbs-up, “Great job! Loved your show,” but it’s actually convincing and influencing them in their decision making to work with you. How do you get that to happen?

A lot of times I specifically ask for people to reach out to me. It’s really difficult to get them to write exactly what I want them to write from the podcast alone. There’s a pretty small percentage of people who will take that action. I bulk my reviews. For example, one that’s coming out this coming week, I focus more on that than my normal call to action which really emphasizes my email list. I said, “Okay, it’s the holiday season. We have our giving hearts open. I just want to remind you how important our reviews are.” Speak from the heart on why they want to do this and why it’s really helpful.

“If Mind Love has been really helpful to your life, if it’s affected you, if you’ve got some good tips, please leave a five-star review. If it’s less than five stars, reach out to me, and tell me how I can get better,” something like that. I’ll notice a search. I only do that every now and then because if you keep it at every single time or if you push it every single time, a lot of people get a little bit lackluster about it. 

I also reach out through the emails that I send out and say, “Open your heart to me,” or, “How much Mind Love has helped you in your life,” or, “You don’t know how much you’ve saved me,” or, “I feel like we’re best friends.” I will write back something really thoughtful. It’s really important to engage that and be a human. That’s how you developed those what Pat Flynn calls superfans. Saying, “You know what? I’m so glad I was able to help you. I’m wondering, can you write any of this? This is so meaningful to me. I would love for other people to see this perspective. Can you put this in a review?” A lot of times I’ll get those really heartfelt deep reviews.

You can even go depending on how you feel that relationship is with that listener, to specifically say, “This sentence stood out to me. Thank you so much. Would you mind putting that into a review?” That’s how you can get a little bit more control. If you have an email list, the relationship is on another level, you can be really specific about, “Hey, if this has been helpful to you, leave a review. The most helpful reviews include this, this, and this,” whatever you’re specifically seeking.

That’s all great. You can then leverage those reviews outside of the platform, take screenshots, copy some of the text, put that on your phrase page, all that sort of stuff is leverageable across lots of platforms. If you’ve got Google reviews that are locked in that, Google My Business listing, and they’re not on your website. Information wants to be free. Let it out there. Let it get some air. Get viewed by the rest of the world not just by people who are looking at your Google My Business listing, your Yelp listing, or your Stitcher listing.

Another thing that you mentioned that I think is really powerful is to leverage holidays. Give a reason why now is the time for you to take the step to do this thing. One thing that I’m about to send out related to the holidays because we’re almost there with a couple of weeks to go, is I’m going to send out to my clients an offer that I got the idea from Michael Port, from our beloved instructor from her public speaking. If you recall, we’ve got to give a free ticket to HPS core to somebody that we thought would really appreciate it, value it, and get something out of it. I think pretty much everybody did in the program. I thought long and hard about who to give mine to, so I gave it to a client of mine. 

That inspired me to think of how I can apply that concept with my own business because I got so much value out of it, and the person I gifted the ticket got so much value out of it. He still talks about it. Why can’t I just do that with my own business? I thought it was like a mini SEO audit that I can gift to my core clients, and they could gift that one each to one friend, colleague, somebody in their industry, whoever that could really benefit from many SEO audits. I’m going to do that here next week.

I was thinking about how genius that was because when you consider that the biggest objection that most people have when they’re buying a high ticket program would be their spousal objections or something like that. That extra support. Not only do people feel really good being able to gift this thing, but it also opens communication, like for my husband. I sent my husband. It was a big expense for us. After he got back, he’s like, “Okay, I totally get it.” The chances of me going even further in the program immediately increased because I’ve now got the buy-in from this person. I thought that was super genius as well.

One way that I applied that to my own work is a little bit of a different way. When I have a course, I have a specific 30-day mindset course that people go through and really love. A lot of times, people like it because they don’t have people in their life that are currently working on themselves in that capacity. A lot of times I’ll do a little special “bring a friend for free.” That way they’ll have this partner to go through it with, they’re more likely to actually complete the course, and they’re able to share this. They’re even more likely to share it with somebody else.

That’s great. I loved that. You guys can be accountability buddies together if you’re both going through the program. Keep each other accountable and motivated. 

Back to this concept of holidays and tying into holidays, have you incorporated other than the traditional holiday season in December with Christmas, Hanukkah, and all that, what about the other times in the year? Other holidays that you tie into to do any kind of promotions or anything like that? Maybe even unconventional or little known holidays?

I am a holiday fanatic. I will use any reason to get a little bit extra festive. A lot of how I create my content is based on what I needed to hear at one point. It helps keep it really personal when I tune in to my younger self. Not necessarily age younger but just before I knew what I know now. I’ve done holiday themes. I like the woo-woo stuff on my show. Sometimes I’ll get a little about mediumship or whatever. I like to really get into the motivating factor of January where people are like, “Okay, ready for my new year’s resolutions.” 

Just be hungry, get out there, and be willing to be uncomfortable. The quality of your life is directly proportional to how comfortable you are with being uncomfortable. Click To Tweet

A lot of that really just comes back to being so in-tune with who your own audience is. Maybe you do not have a festive type of audience. It might not help you quite as much. Maybe you don’t like doing sales on Cyber Mondays. I think it’s really variable depending on who your specific audience is and getting on to that level. For me, I know there’s a lot of women from 25–45 listening to my show. I know what they like. I know the shows they watch. I know the things they like to drink and all of that stuff. I know that they also like holidays. A good portion of them are going to and that’s going to connect with them. But if you don’t have that kind of audience, then you’re wasting your time there.

One thing I think is also a really good thing to know as an SEO guy, not a lot of people think about podcast SEO. The thing is I’ve shared it with a lot of people, they’re like, “Ugh, SEO’s dead,” or SEO doesn’t apply to podcasts. What SEO can do for you when you’re creating your content, it’s really important to understand the algorithms for the platforms that you’re creating for. Millions of dollars are spent understanding what is content that keeps people coming back, that makes people take action. So many people just think about how many listeners they’re trying to get from that and not everything else. That’s only one metric in that algorithm. How long are people listening to your show? The average listening time, the subscriber-to-download ratio, the number of reviews you have. All of those things matter, too. 

Aside from just thinking about how you bring people in, you can’t fill a leaky bucket. Also, be thinking about those little things that you can do to keep people around. Sometimes coming back to holidays, I will do a little gift or something like that around giving seasons, like say to the end, I’m going to be giving you this or sharing this tip. This can be used whether it’s a holiday or not. Or doing a teaser clip in the beginning and making sure that content not only sums up the best content but what the episode is about and does something later on in the episode. It creates that curious gap that’ll keep people staying around. They’re like, “I haven’t heard that one clip. That’s what brought me in.” They stay. My show does have a longer than average listening time as well.

The more you can focus on that, even if your goal isn’t to rank in the top 200, those things will give you a lot of insight because all of the money going into is actually what it takes to build a really successful podcast.

I agree with all of that. One of the things about what you’re talking about, understanding the listener, the customer, and being in-tune with them. If it’s a holiday, make a meaningful holiday to them. If your audience is in the woo-woo stuff then saying, “Hey, Mercury’s in retrograde so that’s why we’re going to talk about this,” or, “That’s why I want you to check this out.” If your audience is into geeky stuff, “Hey, it’s Geek Pride Day. It’s May 25th. Today, we’re going to celebrate X, Y, or Z.” Really understanding your customer and resonating with them is so important.

There’s so much we can unpack with podcast SEO. I don’t know if I have time to go there. I will share that for you, listeners, this is not something I’m going to share in the show notes page, like the link to it. But if you email me at me@stephanspencer.com, email me and ask for the Podcast Movement Virtual Talk on Podcast SEO. It’s a 50-minute virtual talk I gave at Podcast Movement on the virtual site. I didn’t get in as a real speaker, I got in as a virtual speaker for their virtual ticket. This was from a couple of years ago. I can’t just put it up on the website but I can send you access to that if you email me individually for it.

If we have time, we’ll talk a few more podcast SEO tips back and forth. That might be a fun little lightning around. In any event, I had promised to circle back at some point in our discussion to the Pat Flynn course that you took. I would love to know, what are some of the top takeaways or game-changing tips that you got out of that course?

For me, what was really helpful as a perfectionist was to have step 1 through step 10 or whatever, just laid out for me. Historically, I have been the type of person that’s like, “Okay, now I’m getting to this. Now I need to research which the best platform is. Now I need to research which is the best microphone.” He just laid it out there, gave those options. Even then I got a little stuck because there were a couple of microphone options or whatever, but I already have a Yeti and all that stuff. 

I actually sprung for the in-person because at the same time of being like, “Okay. I could probably figure out this podcasting thing on my own. It might take me longer.” Again, this was one of my first big investments in myself. I still had a lot of fear around spending that amount of money but I knew I was going to this time. There was an extra in-person two-day event. I knew that my success in the past often came from my relationships with other people. It was twofold of having these guidelines just laid out for me and being able to go and develop a relationship with somebody who I would then start calling my mentor whether he wanted me or not.

What I was able to do there was only go but share the knowledge that I knew, really try to be a standout person who gave value in that, but then also, this is what I always do when I join somebody’s program. I make myself the star student. I am so heavily involved that I act like it’s my part-time job to be giving value in their groups. What that’ll do, if people want to share your success, especially his first program, you can get them in somebody’s first time in launching a program, go all-in with it. That was what got me onto his show which was my original goal years before he ever launched that course. I was like, “I’m going to get on his show.”

For me, any course that I’ve done, most of it I love having just laid out for me. Most of it is the relationship that I’m able to develop with that career because that’ll come back to me. They’ll want to share my success. They have an invested interest in my success at that point. That was the biggest thing I’ve got out of it. At the same time, I bought a few podcasting courses because I had that mentality like, “I’m going to get in with everybody.” 

I kind of did but I only went through his course because I found that a lot of the other courses were either overwhelming or underwhelming. These were exactly the steps that I needed. I didn’t need to go to an outside source to find out any other information, but it wasn’t going to take me nine months to launch my podcast. I launched it exactly two months from the time I purchased that course. It would’ve been even shorter if it wasn’t for that in-person. That in-person was really helpful to be like, “Is this the right name?” All these things that you mull over thinking it’s the most important thing. All you really need to hear is somebody smart say, “That’s a good one.” I’m like, “Okay. I’m ready to go.”

There were a bunch of different things from it but I do highly recommend that course. If you want it, I have a coupon code that I can share with your audience that’ll give them $100 off.

Perfect, that’d be great. Do you have it offhand? Or should we just put it in the show notes?

It’s a link. I’ll give it to you for the show notes.

Okay, perfect. You said that it was just right. It was the Goldilocks of online courses for you at that time. Not overwhelming, not underwhelming. You have your own course. How do you make your course not overwhelming or underwhelming to all of your constituents?

I try to actually touch in with what people really want, what’s really going to help them. My course’s a 30-day program. It’s more mindset-driven about how to regain control of your life, the tools that really helped me to get to where I am today. I always survey people after the course. There was a lot of surveying. I used Ryan Levesque’s ASK Method in asking what your biggest challenges are when it comes to whatever your course topic is about. Use those words, figure out, make sure you’re answering all of those questions. After the first group, I asked people what they’ve got out of it, what their biggest transformation for that, what they wished they saw on there, then constantly tweaking based on feedback. I’ve got a lot of good feedback from it to the point where I’m not hearing a lot of constructive criticism anymore. 

I’m working on a new program specifically for entrepreneurs. Like you said in the beginning about finding that avatar, I know how scary that can be in the beginning. You’re afraid of picking the wrong one, excluding people, and then changing your mind. I didn’t necessarily do that in the right way. I went broader in the beginning. I have a lot to learn about myself and my audience. I made sure to write those things down instead of just getting broader and broader. I got narrower and narrower. 

Not only that, considering not just who needs to hear this specific content, but who do you really want to work with? It’s hard to build deeper and deeper programs when the person who needs to hear your content isn’t the person you want to spend your time with. For example, when you’re dealing with mindset, there’s a lot of people that are at the very beginning stages of rock bottom. It’s hard for them to even leave their bed. I’m so grateful to be able to help those people but as somebody who considers herself very emphatic, it’s also really difficult for me to do one-on-one coaching with that because it’ll leave me drained. 

Through my learning experience, I realized, “Okay, the people I want to work one-on-one with is this kind of person, the person ready to take action, that wants to transform their life.” I’m still totally fine with having content that’s pre-created, that I don’t need to sit there and take all their energy for the other groups of people. Consider your wants, desires, what would really make that dream life for you, and who that is that you’re working with. It’s such a huge part of finding that avatar.

Running a business is three things: a lot of strategy, foresight, and forethought. Click To Tweet

For sure. Do we have a few minutes to do a bit of lightning round?

Go for it.

You mentioned that you started your podcast so you didn’t have to, in part, not have to put on the makeup, and all that. It was an audio podcast. Now, are you doing video as well? If you are, how do you incorporate video into the mix from a marketing standpoint like YouTube, etc.?

I have been focusing my video content on Instagram lives, Facebook lives, and things like that. I have found it works for me if I siloed different types of content to different platforms. That way, it’ll be able to segment your audience in a way that’s powerful for you. I’m still actually working on niching that down a little bit more and transforming my Facebook group to that entrepreneur woman that I hope to be working with, that needs to know that process of starting their own business without overwhelming themselves. That Facebook group will be specifically for that person.

If you want to see me live, meet me on Instagram. That might be switching to Facebook again. So much of this is a learning process, checking in with myself every month or every three months and figuring out what’s working and what’s not, what do I wish I had done differently and just starting that now. I’ve been keeping videos on specific platforms. It also encourages the people who want that kind of interaction to go connect with me there, which just further builds my audience and my influence.

Great. How do you leverage Instagram most effectively? What’s the best thing you do on Instagram to drive listens and engagements with regards to your podcast?

One of the ways that I get people to go there is by incentivizing them in some way. I’m not saying sending a dollar to everyone who follows you. One thing that I love to do on Instagram, on my podcast quite often, I’ll say, “Connect with me on Instagram. Anyone who shares this podcast, I’ll send a personal voice message to.” I do. There was a little voice message feature within. When somebody shares, they automatically show up in a message on Instagram, and I send them a personal voice message. People always respond back with something really enthusiastic along the lines of, “Oh my gosh! I’m totally fangirling right now,” or whatever it might be. So, having that little incentivization. 

Another one that I like to use is when you share the podcast, I’ll reshare it to my story. That way you guys can connect with each other and see who’s in the Mind Love tribe. Just little things like that. Think again, what is going to work for your audience? Does it make them feel good if you reshare on Instagram? Are they on Instagram? I know a lot of my audience is. Not a lot of other people are. Maybe it’s only Facebook. Maybe it’s more LinkedIn. Again, get clear on where your audience hangs out and really push to that. Figure out what they want. 

A lot of what I do is through my email list. I have a daily email list called The Morning Mind Love. It just doesn’t sell to them. I mean, they’ll still get a sales email when I’m launching something but I send them motivational messages every morning. It’s something that people want. How can you make people want whatever platform they’re pushing you to? See what tweaks you need to make to your marketing message to get to that. It not only gives them freebies when they sign up for this, but they also get a meditation, they get a few printables, the things I knew my audience wants, and a daily inspirational message. 

When I send out that first confirmation email, I say, “Hey, reply back to me to tell me who would you most likely to see on the show, or are there any topics that we haven’t yet covered that you love?” Then, they’re replying back. It’s automatically making sure that they’re not going to go to spam. Just being deliberate with everything, figuring out little ways at every step of the way on how they can add engagement, then cross-promoting platforms from there. At the bottom of that email, all the time, it says, “Connect on Instagram.” My Instagram following has been increasing. It just takes a little extra thought.

It’s a lot of strategy, foresight, and forethought. You’ve got that spade, so congratulations on all your successes. I’m sure it’s going to continue and grow. I’m excited to see that happen.

If folks wanted to work with you, not one-on-one because you don’t do that, but to be part of a group program, get your courses, or learn from you, signup from your daily newsletter, that sort of stuff, where should we send our listeners to?

You can connect with me at mindlove.com. Also, I do work with people one-on-one with podcast consulting. Just not with specific emotional issues at this given moment. I am available for podcast consulting. You can book as sure as 30 minutes just to see if you’re on the right track and get some ideas for your specific message. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, reach out to me there, or just shoot me an email at melissa@mindlove.com

Awesome. Thank you, Melissa, and thank you, listeners. We’ll catch you in the next episode of Marketing Speak.

Important Links

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

☑ Shift my mindset to a mindset of success and abundance. If I believe I have a gift to share with the world, I must do everything I can to honor it. 
☑ Improve my skills and knowledge of my craft. Take classes for further knowledge, certifications and authority in my niche. 
☑ Be intentional with my personal and professional relationships. The ultimate goal is to keep building and nurturing connections, eventually building a solid tribe.
☑ Be bold in going after my dreams. It’s normal to have fears and hesitations, but it only takes a single step or a few seconds to change my life for the better.  
☑ Strategize every step of the way. Create a business plan that will give me a clear overview of the steps I need to accomplish my goals. 
☑ Launch my business or product with a bang. Make it a special occasion and invite my friends, family, and community to let them experience something memorable. 
☑ Be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Building a business has a lot of ups and downs. Enjoy the ride and learn along the way.
☑ Treat my audience’s feedback like gold. They are my best assets, and their opinions can make or break my business.
☑ Optimize my digital presence and implement a digital marketing strategy. Reach out to my audience more efficiently with the help of targeting and analytics.
☑ Tune in to the Mind Love Podcast to hear more about Melissa and her message.

About Melissa Monte

Melissa Monte is the host of the popular podcast Mind Love. As an entrepreneur and former VP of Marketing, Melissa has applied her strategic mindset to achieve explosive growth.

Mind Love is a top Mental Health podcast in 29 countries. Forbes named her show the #1 Podcast for your Life and Career. Harper’s Bazaar called it a “must listen.” She’s been invited to share the stage with top influencers in podcasting like Pat Flynn and Jordan Harbinger. And now she’s spilling her secrets.



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