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Ep. 223: How this entrepreneur helps podcasters use their podcast to grow their business with Anne Claessen

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In this episode, I speak with Anne Claessen who helps podcasters monetize their show before they have thousands of downloads. 

She decided to mix her MBA in strategy with her long-term love for podcasting, which made her create The Podcast Babes in 2019.

Listen on to find out how Anne has been able to create remote income helping podcasters grow their business.

Listen Below:

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Transcription:

Debbie:

Hey everyone. Thank you so much for being here. I’m really excited to be with my guest today. I’m here with Anne.

Hey, Anne, how are you? 

Anne:

Hey, Debbie. Thank you so much for having me. 

Debbie:

I’m so excited to talk to you today. Before we get to everything, can you tell us a little bit more about you and why you live an offbeat life? 

Anne:

Yeah, of course. I live my life as a digital nomad which is kind of a broad term of course. But for me, that means that I work at 9, I have my own company called The Podcast Babes. And I move countries every few months except for when there is a pandemic that then, I live with my family in The Netherlands.

That’s not too offbeat at the moment but usually, I try to change my home base every 3 months.

Debbie:

That is incredible. I love that. And of course, I love that you’re able to do this using your podcast because that’s what we both do. And it is definitely something that is popping up. So many more people are doing it. 

What did you actually do before you started your company and what was it before? And how did you make that transition? 

Anne:

To be honest, I didn’t do much before I started my company because I went to a University, I went to a business school, and a law school. I studied very hard for 6 years, got all my degrees to become a lawyer because I thought that was what I wanted. 

But then after getting all the degrees, I actually realized that that is really not for me. I don’t think I am made for a corporate career and law. So I felt really lost after University. I had no idea. I knew very well what I didn’t want to do but then what the alternative was and what my career would look like, I had no idea. 

So I started traveling. I left my home country for a backpacking trip and I did that – just backpacking. I had some odd jobs in Australia. I get my working holiday there. So I had some very random jobs in hospitality, I worked at a strawberry farm.

When I was in university, I went on trips as well but then for like 2 or 3 weeks. But now I went for like a year and a half and after a year-and-a-half, I knew, “Okay, I don’t want to go home but this is not sustainable to do this much longer either,” because the jobs that I had were just not great and I didn’t enjoy them but I also didn’t want to go home and work in an office. 

So I knew that I had to find something to do and starting my own business was always a dream that I had for someday. Like, “Oh, someday I want to have my own company. I want to be my own boss.” 

But everyone always told me, “Oh, you’re too young. You should get a job first and get experience. Learn from others and make mistakes when you’re working for other people.” And I was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sounds legit. Okay, I’ll do that.” And when I was traveling I was like, “You know what? I’m just going to do it now. I’m just going to try it. We’ll see what happened. 

I did an online course to become a virtual assistant because I read about that online. And I was like, “Okay, sounds broad enough,” and I still had no idea what exactly I wanted to do. So I was like, “Okay, I’m just going to take this course,” and one of the modules was about podcast management. 

And when I saw that I was like, “Wow, this is a job? This is what people do for a living? That sounds awesome.” I always listen to a lot of podcasts before when I was in University, when I was traveling, almost every day. So when I saw that, I was like, “Wow, this is for me. This is it.” 

So I started working as a podcast manager. I did that for about a year and then changed more into podcast strategy, podcast monetization strategy. And that’s what I do now. 

So that’s the story, basically.

Debbie:

That is amazing. I love that. It came from really your passion to do something outside of the box and podcasting, and anything in that sector is definitely outside of the box. 

So when you finally decided that this was something that you wanted to do, was there a what now moment, especially, since this was fairly new to you and how you were actually going to start monetizing it and create income from it?

Anne:

Yes, absolutely. Yeah. So I started as a freelance podcast manager. I didn’t even have my own podcast back then. I just work behind the scenes for other podcasters and that was great to get some experience and see how other people are doing it.

After a while, I thought, “Okay, I want to go to see too. I want my own podcast.” So I started my podcast. I have two podcasts actually: one is called The Podcast Babes which is my businessy podcast about podcasting. I also have a podcast called  Digital Nomad Stories and that is my hobby podcast. I call it my hobby forecast because I interview really cool people who are also digital nomads and I really do that for fun. 

So I started that podcast first and my intention was that one was never really to monetize, it was really just to have fun and connect with awesome people around the world and I’m still doing that, so very grateful. 

But after a while, I also realized that I wanted to share the podcast knowledge that I got from working with all these different people, with all these different podcasters. I wanted to share that so I started a new podcast which is The Podcast Babes and monetized that by finding new clients for my business. 

Debbie:

That is amazing and I love that podcasting has really turned into an income source to you, not just your business when you first started but the show itself. And that is definitely what a lot of people want to do, right? A lot of podcasters want to do.

So, can you tell us a little bit more about that? How are you able to get clients from your podcast, from that show that you had? 

Anne:

Yeah, definitely. So I was really, really clear from the start, “This is what I do.” So I am a podcast strategist and since then, I have niched down more and more into podcast monetization. But when I started, it was more like a general podcast strategy. 

So, also promoting podcasts and the episodes were also about different topics but it was all podcast strategy related. And I made sure that the topics that I talked about even if it was with guests, I made sure that it was all very, very interesting for my ideal client. And my ideal client would be someone who is interested in hiring me as a podcast strategist, of course. 

So I really looked at the content and I made it very clear what I did and how I could help listeners to level up their podcast. And that is how I got my first few clients from the podcast. 

Debbie:

Love that, that is incredible. 

Now, when you’re starting a business, especially something that most people think is unorthodox, something that’s outside of the box, there is not really guaranteed security like you would have in a regular nine-to-five. 

How did you get over that hump of not having a secure income and how do you continuously make sure that you are prepared and you do have that “stable” type of income that most people are always really worried about?

Anne:

Yeah, very good question. 

To be honest, I don’t know if I figured this out a hundred percent myself. But the good thing about digital nomad life is that it’s super flexible. So if I have a really good month, I can, of course, put money aside. But if I have a not-so-good month, I can just choose to live somewhere else cheaper or more affordable and I don’t have to spend as much money as the month before or a few months before. 

So I really love that about digital nomad life but business-wise, I changed my business model almost a year ago, because, when I started, I was just working as a freelance podcast manager and I was relying heavily on clients. 

And when the pandemic hit, some of my clients were heavily affected by more of the economic crisis that came from the pandemic. Two clients had let me go and that was not great because my work was good. It was not like they wanted to let me go but they had to just because of financial reasons.

And that made me realize, “Okay, this business model is not sustainable for me because I’m relying too heavily on clients. So I need to find something that doesn’t fluctuate as much or I don’t want to depend too much on clients.” 

That is why I changed my business model. Now, it’s more high-ticket mentoring. So that is already a huge change. I don’t trade my time for money as much anymore. But also I have an online course that I sell so I can just keep selling that. It’s done, it’s there. I can just keep selling the same course and help more people that way. 

So it’s like all my income is depending on this one income source like I had before from clients. Now, it’s clients but there’s also the online course, and maybe in the future I’ll have more passive income streams. 

I also make some money from affiliate marketing, by the way. That was really cool for podcasters. It’s not huge yet but it’s there, it’s set up, it’s not nothing. So, I am definitely working on those passive income streams, just like you said, to make it a little bit more consistent. And so, I don’t have to rely too heavily on clients. 

Debbie:

Yeah, I think that’s a really good point to have: trading your time for money when you’re starting out as a digital nomad, just a remote worker, or just a worker in general, right? And there’s a huge difference between the two and that you have to be there. 

You constantly need to make sure that you’re working and it’s completely different than passive where you do the work in the beginning and then it just does all of that for you or you have high-ticket clients where you are doing work but it’s actually less work If you can believe it or not. 

And you’re making more money from that because they’re really paying for your expertise and not just the work that you’re doing. So that is such a huge difference and love that you’re doing all of these different streams of income right now, Anne.

So, for you, what do you say have been the biggest lessons that you have learned so far in this journey that you’re doing in terms of working with clients? And what you have found that has really worked with you and maybe something that you won’t want to do again or you don’t recommend for other people to do as well. 

Anne:

Yeah. Oh, I learned so much. Oh my God, Debbie.

I think the key mindset shift that I had to make was when I started, I was a freelancer, of course, and I was just like, “Okay, where do I find clients?” And that’s it. I didn’t really care about anything else. 

But then at one point, I was like, “Okay, you know what? Even if I have clients, even if I’m fully booked, I should be building a brand,” and I didn’t do that from the start. And if I would start over, what would probably be step one is to create content. 

So probably a podcast, of course, because I love podcasting. But if I don’t love podcasting, then a blog or, I don’t know, any kind of content that you can bring value to the world. I would 100% start with that stuff because that way, you can show the world what you have to offer. 

You can show potential clients what you have to offer but also people who want to do a collab with you. Like, this is so good for your visibility and you never know what will happen if someone finds your content and connects with you. You can find new friends, new business partners, new clients. And I think that is a “mistake” that I made at the start. 

I was just looking for the next client and that was it. I didn’t even have a brand. It was more like, “Oh, this is me and this is what I do,” and that’s it. About a year ago, I really made that change, and that was also when I changed the name of my business to The Podcast Babes. 

I had an amazing brand designer who designed my logo, colors, everything, the whole brand got designs from me. And I think that we really made a big change in my business but also in my own mindset of, “Okay, now, this is bigger than me. It’s not just “need a freelancer” anymore, this is The Podcast Babes, this is the business now.” 

So I think for anyone who wants to start something, definitely build your brand from the start or probably even before the start. 

Debbie:

That is really interesting to that point because a lot of people do at the beginning similar to you, you’re just really focused on getting the clients but then after you have that person, you have to constantly be hustling, right? 

But if you do build a brand people actually find you and then you warm them up, they know they can trust you, and then it’s so interesting how they start coming to you instead of the other way around when you do that. But it is a lot of work. It’s a lot of work to build that brand and it is a lot of work to do that in the beginning.

But it’s kind of similar to passive income right where you do all the work. I mean, it’s continuous work but then it does pay off and then people start coming to you instead of you trying to just look for someone all the time.

And it’s such a switch and you’re right, that mind shift helps a long way. 

Anne:

Yeah.

Debbie:

I love when I see people and they really have their branding on point because it makes sense and you are being reeled in without even knowing that you are. 

Anne:

Exactly. Yeah. 

Debbie:

It’s amazing. And I think even right now, there’s a lot of emphasis on branding but still, a lot of people don’t know exactly what that is. So when you say branding, what does that mean to you and what should people be doing when they are trying to brand themselves? 

Anne:

Yeah, really good question. I don’t necessarily say that you need to have someone design your brand for you from the start and spend thousands of dollars to do that. I think if you’re just starting out it can be really, really simple and you don’t have to make it perfect from the get-go 

I think perfection is not a thing anyway especially when you start. Maybe you don’t want to spend all that money on branding but you can do really easy things like looking on Canva, looking up some templates for social media, and deciding on a few brand colors just so that it looks consistent and the people recognize it. 

I think that is really important. Or if you don’t want to use the Canva templates, there’s a place called Creative Market. Sometimes I buy my template there. They cost a few dollars and they’re very good sometimes. 

So you can make it very easy for yourself and very inexpensive but just make it look professional. I think that’s just a thing. And make it look cohesive. You want a cohesive brand, not one color one time, and then it’s a completely different color the other time. Just choose a few colors and stick to that and stick to your templates. 

But what I mean by building a brand from the start is more that you want to tell people what you do by creating content about it. So whether it’s a podcast or a blog, you want to give people an opportunity to find you. 

And I think it’s never too early to start this because the problem is, what I did, I was on Instagram and I created some content there, of course, like everyone. But on Instagram, the content is there for a few days, maybe a week tops, and then it’s gone. 

But my podcast episodes, like, literally the first few episodes that I released, people still listen to those same episodes and that is what I mean by creating content. It’s not necessarily social media content but really, like, your own content on a platform that you own and that you can leverage in the future and you’re not depending on algorithms or what if someone hacks your Instagram or something like that. You hear this story sometimes. 

So make it something of your own. Create your own content and not social media content. I think that’s more my point. 

Debbie:

Absolutely. And I think also, even if the aesthetic of your branding is not on point yet, it is so much more important to really have your voice, your branding voice, on point more than the actual colors and all of that aesthetic stuff. 

Because I can tell you first-hand, I was so much more concerned about that than the actual content that I was creating and really getting that down path and that didn’t really matter, right? 

You can change your colors tomorrow. You can do all of these things but if your message is really geared towards your ideal audience and your ideal clients then that’s going to matter so much. You can always tweak that and pay for somebody, a professional later on. 

So at the end of the day, it’s really about your messaging. That is so much more valuable because I’ve seen so many content creators out there that don’t put a lot of time and effort. And the aesthetics just look like they did it in their basement or something but people love it. And then they get so much audience from that. 

So definitely your brand voice, your messaging, is extremely important and you have to really understand that. But, I think you mentioned this too, at the beginning that may not be clear for you of which is okay but as you keep going, I think the whole thing is just making sure you’re continuous and you’re persistent because then you really understand what your audience wants once you start putting your content out there. 

So that is why branding is so important for all of us. 

Anne:

Yes, absolutely. I totally agree with you. And I think podcasting is amazing because you can literally have your voice heard. And you can literally have a brand voice because it’s your own voice. 

And I think that’s the thing. You want people to get to know you a little bit and that is how you build trust. That’s also why podcasting is so awesome for building any brand, especially a personal brand. 

Debbie:

And that’s why we all love podcasts, right? 

Anne:

Yep!

Debbie:

So for you, Anne, since you are a digital nomad and you travel quite a lot, not as much anymore because of what’s happening right now, how do you typically manage your time as a remote worker when you are traveling around?

Anne:

Yes. I realized after a while that I am very focused in the morning. So since I knew that I am just trying to wake up, get a coffee and then go straight to work. Very boring but I’m not someone for very long morning routines.

I want to dive straight into work, get my work done, and then ideally, I would either take a long lunch break or just stop working around 2 or 3 p.m. That is my ideal day, it doesn’t always go like that but that is ideal. 

And I just know that in the evening, I just cannot focus. I cannot do any work. Sometimes if I really have to, I’ll schedule an interview or something like that in the evening, if there’s no other option because that’s fun and it doesn’t really feel like work but especially if I need to be very focused, I cannot do that in the evening. 

So what I try to do is wake up early, get my work done, and then do all the fun stuff and see a sunset at the beach. And now, I really miss Southeast Asia and my life there. 

Debbie:

That sounds like a really good morning routine and balance of it. And that’s the beauty about working for yourself because you can create that type of schedule for yourself and understand when you are at your most productive. And I think that’s so important to understand.

And with anything else, it takes a little bit of time to figure that out because sometimes you feel like you’re a morning person or you force yourself to be a morning person because maybe you were at a 9 to 5 and that’s what you were taught. 

And then you realize, when you start working for yourself, that you’re actually a midday person or even an evening person and that’s where you’re super and hyper-focused. So, it’s really interesting what you find out once you do get out of that mindset that, “I have to do this or I have to do that.” Love that. 

And I’m the same way. Most of the time I wake up super early in the morning and then do all of my work. Right in the morning. Like, midday the same thing that you’re doing, Anne, so I love that. 

Anne:

Yeah. Full focus, right? 

And then after that, you could do anything you want. I just find that amazing. 

Debbie:

Yeah, same. Either that or what I do is every time I do a task, I finish it, then I take a break, and then go back in and take a break.

Anne: 

Oh, I have never tried that. Maybe that’s a new thing to try. 

Debbie:

Yeah. ‘Cause I’m like, “Okay, need a break,” even if it’s just for a few minutes, I try to do it. So then, like, refocus, especially if you’re distracted with something. I’d rather be distracted for 5 minutes than for like an hour and then go back to my work. 

Anne: 

Yeah. That’s actually a really good point. I need to try that. 

Debbie:

Yes. Tell me how it goes.

So, Anne, when you were just starting out and you wanted to start getting income from podcast management, how did you actually land your first client? 

Anne: 

Oh yeah, that was tough. I’m not going to lie, that first client was tough to get. I have no idea how to look for clients. With the course that I took, there was a Facebook group where people would also post job postings or job openings. 

So there, I replied to so many job openings and I never got the job. Very sad. So don’t do it like that. I think that’s kind of a waste of time but that’s how I did it. And what happened though was that someone posted a job and they didn’t hire me but they were impressed by my portfolio or CV or I don’t know what I sent them.

And one of her friends was also looking for a podcast manager. So she emailed me like, “Hey is it okay if I send your email to my friend because she’s also looking?” I was like, “Yeah, please do.” And then that lady hired me. 

So I think that really shows how to get clients I think. If there’s a job posting and like 50 people are replying to this one job posting, you have me really, really good. And you have to really stand out from the crowd to get that client. But if you get a client or a potential client through networking, I feel like that is much easier to get your first client that way. 

So if I would have to do it again, I would probably just go full focus on networking, meeting new people in the online business space. And like I said, building a brand and getting people to reach out to me instead of the other way around. Because it’s just so difficult to stand out when there is a job posting and all these people with more experience reply to it. 

So, yeah, I would probably give, as a tip, to network. 

Debbie:

Yeah. And again, that’s why building a brand is so crucial and so important because, again, you’re reeling people in instead of trying to apply to a job that, like you said, fifty or a hundred people are applying to. And also they’re the ones that are telling you the price structure, not the other way around. 

Anne:

I think also if I would start over and I wanted to be a podcast manager again, then I would start my podcast from day one. And even if it’s unrelated to the topic I wouldn’t start The Podcast Babes back then because I didn’t know anything about podcasting.

Not as much to share with the world but I would definitely just start a hobby podcast and show potential clients that you actually know how to do this and you do this for yourself, for your own podcast.

When I’m looking for a podcast manager for my team and they have their own podcast, they definitely stand out and I would hire them much faster than if someone doesn’t know anything or just says they know how to do it. 

Debbie:

Absolutely. And I think the most important thing when you’re hiring somebody is that: Have they done this? How long have they done this? What have been their results? So that is always a good thing to take a look at when you are hiring somebody. 

So, when you were setting off to start this location-independent lifestyle, Anne, how much did you actually save and how were you able to budget your money to last? 

Anne:

Yeah, good question. But the thing is, like, when I started my location-dependent lifestyle, I saw it was just traveling. And I didn’t even know if I was going to start a business or when or anything. 

So I saved about, oh, it’s a long time ago, but I think it was almost eight thousand euros. So I think that’s like 10K in US dollars but that was for about a year of travel.

So I traveled, I spent all that money, and then I went to Australia for my working holiday. Worked there, saved up some more money. Honestly, it was quite difficult to save money there. I just hated the jobs that I had, not all of them but most of them. It was just not great. 

So to be honest I started with $0 and that was tough. I wouldn’t recommend that. Again, if I would have to do it all again, I would definitely save or start my business when I still have money in the bank or save more money before I leave or something like that. I don’t know but it was really, really tough to start with $0. 

Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend that. It’s just so stressful, you don’t want to do that.

Debbie:

Yeah, you don’t want to be stressing while you’re traveling around. It defeats the purpose, right? 

Anne:

Exactly.

Debbie:

You don’t want to be struggling while you’re doing that.

So yeah, definitely save. And, if you can, have a remote job when you are doing that. So. love it. 

All right, for you, Anne, let’s fast forward to 50 years from now and you’re looking back at your life, what legacy would you like to leave and what do you want to be remembered for? 

Anne:

This is such a good question. 

I want to be remembered as a generous person who shares her knowledge with the world through broadcasting, of course, and who helps people. I think that also comes down to podcasting, not just clients, but also people around me who can always come to me for advice, for chats. 

And I would like to be remembered as a good listener because I think as podcasters when we do interviews, it’s literally our job to listen. So, yeah. I think that’s what I want my legacy to be. 

Debbie:

Absolutely, that’s amazing. And yes, that’s a huge, huge thing to be a good listener to people. And I think most of the time people want to be heard, right? So when you could listen to them, that makes a huge impact on their lives. I love that legacy, Anne. 

So before we say goodbye, I have five rapid questions for you. Are you ready? 

Anne:

Yeah. Okay. Let’s do it. 

Debbie:

Awesome.

First, what is the best money you’ve ever spent while abroad and why? 

Anne:

Oh my God. I think it’s just like a really good coffee after spending a lot of time somewhere in the jungle with no shower. 

Debbie:

I love that. Coffee after the jungle, sounds like a good thing.

Alright. Describe what your ideal day would look like. 

Anne:

Oh, yeah, I thought about this a lot. 

So I would wake up early, work out, and go straight to work like we always talked about. And I would go out for lunch to a very cute cafe, have an extremely good coffee. So yeah, I’m a huge coffee lover. 

I’ll go on a walk with my boyfriend at the beach. I think that’s very important too. And I would cook really amazing food for us, watch the sunset with him, and then in the evening, I would go out for drinks with my friends.

Debbie:

Love that. And yes, we just realized that Anne really loves coffee. 

Anne:

Absolutely. Yes.

Debbie:

Where do you think is the best location to live as a remote worker? 

Anne:

I think it really depends on what you like and what your lifestyle is because I don’t think there is one remote work lifestyle or one digital nomad lifestyle but you can really make it your own. So for me, it’s 100% at the beach but I also think that some people like cities, some people like mountains.

Debbie:

The beach and then coffee afterward sounds like a good day.

Anne:

That’s me. 

Debbie:

If you could have a superpower, what would it be? 

Anne:

I think you’ll have to cut out all the parts where I’m thinking.

I want to fly because then I can just fly to the next destination instead of sitting on a bus for hours or on a plane, I can just fly there myself.

Debbie:

I love that. I was talking to somebody else about this and they had the same thing and I’m like, “Do you have the strength to bring your husband or your boyfriend with you?” ‘Cause that’s the thing. Like, “Are you going to be flying, and then they’re still going to take public transportation to go?”

Anne:

Oh, yeah. I’ll wait for him when I’m there.

Debbie:

You’re like, “You can do that. I will wait. I will be comfortable, you know? I am not lugging you around. We’re probably going to end up crashing if I have to carry you. So, no, thanks.” So funny.

Alright. Last question, what’s the one thing that you wish you did sooner?

Debbie:

Start a podcast.

Love that. You’re like, “I wish I had done this way sooner.”

Anne:

Yeah. I know I should have done this five years ago.

Debbie:

Right? So many people say that when they have a podcast they were like, “I wish I started my podcast sooner.” And that just goes to show you how important and how amazing this platform is. 

We’re so happy that you joined us today and if our listeners want to know more about you where can they find you? 

Anne:

Yeah. You can find my podcast in all the podcast apps, of course, it’s called Digital Nomad Stories or The Podcast Babes – two different podcasts.

I’m also @thepodcastbabes on Instagram, on Facebook, on Clubhouse, and my website is ThePodcastBabes.com., So, it’s basically The Podcast Babes everywhere. 

Debbie:

Perfect. Thank you so much, Anne, for joining us here today, we really appreciate you. Thank you. 

Anne:

Thank you, Debbie. It was so much fun.


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Show Credits:

Audio Engineer: Ben Smith

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