He's also the CEO of Rainmaker Digital, the company he formed in 2010 through the merger of several successful companies he had built over the years. Last year, Rainmaker Digital generated nearly $12 million in revenues from its various lines of business, including Rainmaker Platform, an integrated content management and digital marketing system.
In the Spring of 2015, Brian and his partners saw the podcasting trend accelerating, so they decided to launch not one podcast, but an entire network of podcasts catering to the different sub-audiences among their massive, half-million-strong audience of readers.
Within a matter of months, they had several different podcasts featured on iTunes, including The Digital Entrepreneur, Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer, and The Writer Files.
Since then, they've added a few more shows, including Unemployable, a podcast that Brian hosts, on which he interviews freelancers and digital entrepreneurs who share their stories and strategies for building profitable businesses while doing what they love.
I spoke with Brian recently on my podcast, Write With Impact, about why he decided to double-down on podcasting.
Serial was the "bust-out moment" for podcasting.
"Podcasting really started to grow thanks to a lot of the comedians that are still big now, like Marc Maron and Joe Rogan. There were a lot of the geeky tech crowd that was also into that comedy already, but that helped bring in some mainstream people. It became a non-geeky thing. But Serial really busted it out. So now, someone like your mom might talk about Serial, and you might say 'Wait! You don't even know what a podcast is!'"
Audio can expand your audience.
"We had this huge text audience of mainly writers, and writers tend to read. But if you look at the statistics, most people don't read at all! Like maybe one book a year.
Once the mainstream caught onto it, they were like 'Oh yeah, I'll listen and I don't even have to look at a screen. I can be jogging, I can be driving, I can be on a train.'
We have this fairly big audience, it's like 450-500,000 people for Copyblogger. It's a good chunk of people, but audio was the next logical step for us because we were passionate about it, and that's just a whole bunch of people that we can talk to that wouldn't listen to us otherwise."
A justifiable marketing expense.
"Our podcast network is run on Rainmaker. It's just another demonstration of the Rainmaker Platform, when you look at it that way. A lot of people do use it for podcasting, it's got included podcast storage which saves you money from a podcast hosting service like Libsyn.
It's not that much money. We have a production team, an outside editor that works closely with us, but for a company that's into the eight figures, we're not bleeding cash."
Ready for sponsors?
"We are seeing we're connecting with new people and growing our overall audience to the point where we've got brands coming to us asking how much it costs to sponsor a show. As content marketers we're not so concerned with getting sponsorships, though we're getting lots of inquiries about that.
We're considering it, but it would have to be a balance. Our first and foremost goal is promoting our own products and services. But if we can find a happy medium between the two, we might take on sponsors."
Millennials will drive podcast adoption.
"Terrestrial radio still rules. We've got an exceedingly aging population here in the States. They're not going to switch over from what they're used to. We've got the baby boomers, the largest generation, and they're all retiring and moving on. Not to say that they won't discover podcasts, because it's built into cars now. That was one of the stats we looked at - the turnover of new cars was driving podcast adoption because it's a feature in all of the new radios.
But this big generation is on the way out (not to be morbid), and the Millennial generation is bigger than them, and they're all into it. There is a lot of traction to be gained."
Podcasts can be repurposed into other types of content.
"I'll do a podcast and get it transcribed, and turn it into another format. So it's a really utilitarian type of content. I'm not saying you need to get up and spew into a microphone. You need to outline it, and think, and construct, and maybe even script in certain situations.
But once you've got one content format that's working for you, you can then turn it into articles, you can turn it into Slideshares, you can turn it into speeches, ebooks, whatever."
It's a long game.
"I think podcasting for us, for everyone in general, and for Rainmaker.fm specifically, is a long game. I think we're still early. People will say, 'If I only started in 2012 like Pat Flynn'.
It's still early, trust me. You just gotta want it, and you gotta be tenacious."