Nathan Wrigley, co-host of the popular podcast WP Builds, shares with us tips on monetizing podcasts, his favorite podcasting tools, and how to book the right guests.

Nathan Wrigley is the co-host of the popular podcast WP Builds, a podcast that is 100% WordPress dedicated. Nathan is also an experienced web designer and developer, who runs a web agency in the UK called Picture and Word.

Over the last few years, Nathan has become more and more focused on podcasting and hosted leading figures from the WordPress community, including Matt Mullenweg. 


How to Monetize Your Podcast

At the beginning of our podcast, Nathan told us about the little bits he recently introduced on his podcast show, such as a weekly news section from the WordPress world. He also described the ways he found to monetize his show:

“So, the typical ways, really, there is nothing bright or inspirational. We do feature some adverts, and I’ve been very lucky to have some sponsors approach me and ask if they can put adverts in the podcast. And, you know, it’s the typical thing. I took my lead from the TWiT network which is run by Leo Leporte, he has audio ads that he reads out. And because I was a complete novice, I literally didn’t know what to do, so I thought, ‘Well, let’s try that.’ So trolled around on the internet, and noticed that a lot of other podcasters, this is quite a typical thing, and you can block adverts into 30 second or 15-second intervals, and depending on where you put them, they command a certain price, and so on and so forth.

And, so, I just thought, ‘Well, let’s try that,’ and it worked. And to this day, it’s still working. You know, people are contacting me fairly often and saying, ‘Can we put our adverts in the podcast?’ And we’ve got banner ads, and things like that, as well.

And because of the fact that the podcast is so niche, well, I mean, it’s not super niche, it’s not like a podcast about page builders, it’s a podcast about WordPress, there are enough companies in WordPress just to support it, and the community is big enough in WordPress that it can support both advertisers and podcasts, it turns out.”

The way Nathan integrates adverts is similar to the way they do it on the radio:

“There’s an ad break, it’s obvious it’s an ad break, and then the program starts again, it’s a little bit like that. And so, with audio ads, typically, you would have about a 15-second option, and within 15 seconds, you can probably say three or four sentences, maybe three. And you could also have a 30 second advert, and you can say a little bit more.

And then depending on where you position it in the podcast, that commands different fees, as well. So if you put it right at the beginning, that’s different from putting it right in the main body of the content. Or you might put it at the end. I’ve opted to put adverts at the beginning, and the end of the podcast, but not to interrupt the podcast itself. So, when the main content starts, let’s say that Ben’s episode about Elementor, once Ben has started talking to me, I made the decision that Ben and I should be uninterrupted by adverts until the end of that. So that’s just a personal decision.

But a lot of podcasters, they take the approach that, ‘Actually, that’s a really good time to put an ad slot in.’ It’s just personal opinion. You can imagine why, in the same way that adverts in the middle of Game of Thrones, which aired for the first time last night, are going to be much more valuable than ads in the program before, or the program after, because that’s when everybody is watching, and you’ve got everybody’s attention. But I just decided that the content was more important than the adverts. But that’s how it’s done typically.

And you can do it in all sorts of ways, I decide that I want to read the ad out myself, just because I think that’s a good way to do it, it’s coming from my voice, which is familiar.”


What Tools Do You Need to Record a Podcast?

Recording a podcast takes a short time compared to writing a text, but editing the podcast is a different story. We were curious to hear whether Nathan does everything on his own, and what tools he uses to record his podcast:

“I do absolutely all of it myself. I do enjoy it actually. I have a Mac. On that Mac, I’ve got a piece of software called Logic Pro, which I believe is modestly expensive. I literally bought it years and years ago on a deal. I can’t recall, but I know for a fact that there’s free software, for example, Audacity, which is absolutely 150% up to the task of editing a podcast together. I do it all myself. I sit here. I record. Mostly I do it with Skype because that just works for me. I’ve got a bit of software, which records the audio and there’s no cost burden for that going forward. We’re recording this on Zoom. I just personally don’t use Zoom.

I record it, and then I just open up this piece of software, and it looks like horizontal swimming lanes, and you just drag the audio in, put the music in if you’ve got any music, and then use the mic again to record the adverts and the introduction and so on. I do it all myself. To begin with, I do recall it being tremendously fiddly. I just couldn’t figure out how to do certain things. As always, Google is your best friend. I went out, searched for tutorials, and now I could not do a single thing beyond editing podcast audio. That is the limit of my capabilities. It’s a bit like driving a car. Now that I’ve done it 250 plus times, whatever it is, it’s instinct now. I know all the keyboard shortcuts, and so I can do it relatively quickly.

Sitting right in front of me right now, I’ve got this microphone called a Blue Yeti, and I’ve got that held up on a stand. It’s like an arm. It literally looks like an arm. It’s got a joint, and it attaches to the table. The intention of that is if I hit the table, the microphone is supposed to not absorb too much of that because I’m quite clumsy and I hit my knees against the table. I bought that to stop that working. I’ve also got a little pop filter, which is a bit like a pair of tights stretched over the front of the mic, and the intention of that is if I pronounced the word P, anything with a P in it particularly quickly, it will take that explosion of sound and pair it down a little bit.

In order to get that recorded, I use Skype, and I use a piece of software called Ecamm, Ecamm Skype recorder. I think it’s about $30 or something. It records anything that comes through Skype. I believe it’s for the Mac only. It splits it into separate channels. My audio and my guest’s audio are separate, which is quite nice because if they’re very quiet, I can tweak their volume up. Whereas if it’s recorded all as one track, you’re stuck if it’s all blended like that. I use Logic to edit it. On the WordPress side of things, I have a couple of plugins, which are used to make the player, the player is created by a plugin called Simple Podcast Press. It’s by a guy called Hani Mourra, who we had on the podcast. It just allows you to have a nice player, and it does lots of automated things as well, but I don’t use it for that.

You always need to host your audio files somewhere. For that, I use a company called Castos, C-A-S-T-O-S. That integrates beautifully with WordPress in that it puts a little meta box underneath the main content area, and all I do is click upload the audio file when it’s finally done and it uploads it all, sticks it on Amazon’s infrastructure, gives me back a URL, and then I paste that URL into the player, and that’s it.”


Scheduling Your Podcast

Some podcasters prefer to have their questions prepared for the interview beforehand, others do it ad lib. Nathan has his own approach:

“Every time somebody books onto the podcast, I’ve taken the approach that I will very, very, very infrequently do, I have somebody on the podcast who just out of the blue contacts me. I’ve decided that I would go and find people. For example, I emailed you, and you then agreed. The reason I do that is that I want to keep it with the things that I’m interested in and I think the community will be interested in. I reach out to people. They come on to my booking form. What I do is once they’ve made a booking, an appointment, I then have a templated set of show notes, and the show notes, they don’t have any specific questions. They’ve just got some information about what’s required. For example, book it out in your calendar. Try to shut all the noise out. Try to get an external mic just to make the sound better and so on. I will write a set of things that I think I’m going to ask them, and it’s a Google Doc so they can see it in real time.

… ask them, and it’s a Google Doc so they can see it in real time. Next to that, next to my set of questions, is a blank space, which I encourage them to fill in, and it’s really nice when I’ve had nothing but an email exchange with somebody. I look in the Google Doc a couple of days before I’m going to record so that I can write my questions and I often see that it’s been filled up with things that they want to talk about, which is lovely because it gives me a starting point, I get to know what they’re all about. But yeah, I do my due diligence, I go and look through their plugin website or they’re hosting company’s website and write a bunch of questions. But usually they’re just mnemonics, it’s just things that I would like to get to, and I ad lib it all so I never, ever ever, read the questions out directly.

Yeah, makes sense. Do you record it in advance? Do you book them in advance? How does the schedule look like?

Yeah, so I have kind of learned the hard way that this is the best way to do it. Right at the beginning, I hit the problem that I wasn’t booking people in advance enough. So there were a few moments where it got to the day of the podcast and I suddenly thought, “Oh, I don’t have anything to put out today. I’ve really got to get somebody on the show.” So then I started to have the approach of, okay, I’ll book a few in advance and that was working really well.

Then other podcasts that were in this space, we had chats, and they talked about this process of batching. So you might set aside one or two days where you’ll record three, four, five episodes, and say in one day you can, you can potentially have the most of the content for the following month. I decided to do this, but I went a little bit crazy last summer and I’ve now got lots and lots and lots and lots of things prerecorded. So at the moment when I’m putting episodes out, I’m having to humbly right and apologetic email to say, I’m really sorry that this has come out so long after we spoke about it but that was a mistake on my part. The lesson to be learned there is I would say do batching, definitely record them in advance, but don’t do what I did which is to get too many recorded because then you feel like a bit of an idiot having to approach your guests who were very nice to give up their time and say sorry, it hasn’t come out yet.”


Focusing on WordPress

When asked how he chooses his guests on the podcast, Nathan said:

“So really it’s anybody that fits under the banner of the WordPress community. Most of the people that we’ve had on have been able to speak English. I’ve had a few people on who really struggled to speak with English, but we did get through it. A few people express their concern that they would not be able to do that, but we managed to get through those and a couple of those are the episodes where I had to sort of edit it.

But no, it’s about whether it interests me, and often it’s something that’s new or something that has been updated. An example might be that a plugin has received a significant update and we had the person on before. Well, things have changed, let’s get them on again. Or it might be something absolutely brand new, there’s this utterly new product that’s coming out, and so that’s what I want to hear about.

The podcast is primarily focused on WordPress and it’s about things which I think are notable. Sometimes people in the Facebook group will drop a suggestion and say you should get in touch with this person and so I do that, but then I decided about just over a year ago that in addition to doing WordPress podcast, I would do a WordPress weekly news podcast. I think I’m on about episode 58 now, so that’s just over a year. On a Monday morning at seven in the morning UK time I put out a WordPress podcast which is about 15 minutes long and it’s just the news from the previous week, so there’s no guests for that at all. It’s literally I scraped the news from the last week, sum it all up, record what I think about it, what’s happened, and put it out. So that’s got nothing to do with guests at all but it’s proving to be very popular.”


What Are the Most Popular Episodes

Apparently, the most popular shows Nathan hosted were not necessarily those with the biggest names:

“It’s really surprising to me which episodes are popular. It might not be what you think. I won’t mention any names, but some of the episodes that have been more popular are tiny little plugins with a very limited audience, but it’s clear that they’ve tweaked the interest of lots of people, so there’s no rhyme or reason to it.

And still, without a doubt, Nathan’s most successful episode was the one with Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress Project along with Michael Little:

“By complete coincidence I emailed him, just it turned out that Gutenberg, the block editor, it had been mooted to be released on this date and then it got pushed back to this date and then this date and this date and this date. It turns out that just by pure coincidence Matt Mullenweg ended up being on our podcast about three days before the Gutenberg editor got launched and that was big news back in November. So that episode was big, not just because it was about Gutenberg, but because of the personality of, of Matt Mullenweg. I think a lot of people like to hear about what he’s doing and what the direction is for automatic and WordPress in general, so that was big primarily because of the stature of him as a guest.”