My movement would be for everyone that speaks in public to start doing more fundraising seminars which create a win/win/win situation and does a lot of good in the world. The speaker makes money, the group sponsoring the fundraiser makes money and the people attending the seminar get great value.
As part of my series of interviews about “5 things you need to know to create a very successful podcast”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tom Antion.
Tom Antion has never had a job. He is an Internet multimillionaire who has been selling on the commercial Internet since there was a commercial Internet circa 1994. Tom is the founder of the only licensed, dedicated Internet marketing school in the country https://www.IMTCVA.org and author of hundreds of training materials on Digital Marketing for Small Business and Professional Speaking Techniques. Tom has done 3000 presentations in 12 countries and is the subject of the soon to be released Hollywood documentary, “The American Entrepreneur”. In his consumer advocate role, Tom has a TV show in development called Scam Brigade where he goes after rip-off artists. Tom’s popular entrepreneurial podcast “Screw the Commute” gives small business owners and aspiring owners moneymaking and saving tips gleaned from his 43 years in business. He also interviews other successful and inspiring entrepreneurs.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit of your “personal backstory? What is your background and what eventually brought you to this particular career path?
I come from a tiny town of only 500 people in western Pennsylvania and we lived in the suburbs, i.e. I lived in “the sticks”. It’s one of those towns that has a 4 way stop sign, but two of the ways don’t go anywhere LOL. I was the baby of six boys and grew up in a hardworking family. My dad came from Syria on a cattle boat in the early 1900’s and worked every day of his life. I’m certain that’s where I got my work ethic. I went on to be valedictorian of my high school, 4th in the state heavyweight wrestling, all state football and received one of the highest honors of the time induction into the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame for Student Athletes. I accepted a scholarship to top 20 ranked West Virginia University and was starting offensive guard there for 2 years.
Since I was a little kid, I followed in my father’s footsteps and was entrepreneurial. At 10 years old I was selling advertising specialties to small businesses and I sold my first used car at 15 years old before I had a learner’s permit. Starting with nothing I owned 5 apartment buildings and a hotel before graduating college. I owned the second biggest nightclub in the state of West Virginia for 6 years where I was in gun fights and knife fights and had bikers trying to kill me.
I was on my way to being a millionaire by the time I was 30 years old and then the drinking age went from 18–21 and I lost everything. I was got injured with no health insurance and was sleeping on a mattress in a vacant house when I got the idea for a crazy company that would change my life.
I was on my mattress watching “Candid Camera” on a black and white TV when I got the idea to pull practical jokes for a living. Prankmasters, Inc. was born. I knew I needed a big city to pull off such a bizarre business so I moved to Washington, D.C. I starved to death for 6 months. Then the “Washington Times” did a feature story about me. Then the “Washington Post” did one. That was picked up by the “Associated Press” and things went crazy. I was doing interviews all over the world including the “Tokyo Today Show”.
That business ran for 6 years but all the time I was thinking there was something bigger out in the world for me. That’s when I got into the professional speaking business and started presenting all over the world on business and presentation skills. Then in 1994 the commercial Internet came along and my world and everyone else’s would change again.
During the beginning of the speaking years I was selling cassette tapes and books and all the stuff speakers sold in those days. It was hard enough selling those things across the street let alone around the world from my computer. I vowed to figure this Internet thing out. I didn’t make a nickel for the first two years, then I got good training from the 31-year-old “Grandfather” of Internet Marketing Corey Rudl. After I got good training 4 years later I was a multimillionaire and enjoy and build on that status today.
I have the longest running most successful and most unique mentor program in the field which includes an immersion training weekend where you actually live in my estate home along with me and my dogs.
I also have the longest continuously running Internet Marketing Seminar called “ButtCamp”
OK, let me explain “Buttcamp”. Because I was selling so much online, people were begging me to teach them how to do it. They said I should have a “bootcamp”. With my comic background I just couldn’t stomach calling my seminar what everyone else calls their seminars. After thinking about it and noting that I was sitting on my rear end making money from my computer, I decided to call it “ButtCamp”. This was late 1996. It caught on and I’ve done them in 11 countries except in England they made me call it “BumCamp”. Hahaha
As time went on, more and more rip-offs appeared on the net. I felt the need to do something to set myself apart. Selling products, services and training was, and still is, highly unregulated. Anyone can put up a website and steal your money. I went through a 3-year process of background checks, curriculum checks, financial checks and bonding to get the license to my school. I also started the development of the TV show to go after the people ripping off the public for literally billions of dollars. The show hasn’t sold yet. The big production company in Hollywood told me, “Tom we love the show, but don’t quit your day job.” Hahaha Apparently shows like this can take 4 or 5 years to sell.
To be honest about it I pooh poohed podcasts for years. Most were just ego trips for the hosts and nobody was making any money. Then when I saw new cars playing podcasts from their dashboards, Alexa and Google devices in homes playing podcasts and listenership going through the roof with hosts actually making money, I decided it was time. 264 episodes later we’re still going strong.
Can you share a story about the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you started podcasting?
Coming from a comic background, I just love to hear fun stories from other entrepreneurs. The most interesting and funniest one I’ve heard so far came from Vickie, a highly professional lady I’ve known for years from the pro speaking arena. She was telling me that when she was in college, she bartended at a biker bar. One of the patrons was ….let’s say somewhat known for making people disappear. This patron had a girlfriend people wish would disappear, i.e. she was not the most pleasant of ladies. This was the wrong person for Vickie to give the wrong drink to. Vickie took a tongue lashing and did everything she could to make it right. When the biker and his girlfriend got up to leave, the biker headed toward Vickie by himself. Vickie thought for sure her life was over. The biker came close and whispered in her ear. “My old lady was out of line. You did well. If you ever need someone stabbed, let me know.” LOL Now that’s a customer service award if I ever saw one.
Can you share a story about the biggest or funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaways you learned from that?
When I first started, I wanted a totally great audio quality and I was noticing my very sensitive microphone was picking up my breath between words. I was editing out every single breath one at a time which was taking hours. After a couple months of this someone told me all of them could be wiped out at once in a few seconds with de breather software. From that point on, I would pay someone or ask someone or watch YouTube videos on how to solve audio problems. Things go a lot faster that way. Also, I’ve been practicing silent breathing so sometimes I don’t even have to process out the breaths with software. They aren’t there in the first place which is always better.
How long have you been podcasting and how many shows have you aired?
About 2 years 266 shows
What are the main takeaways, lessons or messages that you want your listeners to walk away with after listening to your show?
I’ve been very successful in business using simple theories, techniques and software. I want entrepreneurial listeners to get good training from me on both how to make AND how to save money. I do in-depth trainings on Mondays. I also want them to hear and be inspired by a variety of other successful entrepreneurs who I interview on Wednesday and Fridays.
In your opinion what makes your podcast binge-listenable? What do you think makes your podcast unique from the others in your category? What do you think is special about you as a host, your guests, or your content?
My podcast is binge-listenable because I’ve got enormous experience in business, but further than that my experience as a professional speaker and mentor has given me the ability to cut to the chase and make the concepts I teach every Monday very understandable. Also, after writing professional comedy for 6 years some of the off the wall comments I make have the guest, myself and I suspect the listeners laughing like crazy. Then on Wednesdays and Fridays when I interview other successful entrepreneurs. Almost all of them come from my connections to the professional speaking world so they also are upbeat, funny and extremely clear in telling their stories.
My content is proven i.e. I rarely talk about anything that hasn’t made me a lot of money or saved me a lot of money. There’s no convoluted theories and book reports of things I read about but haven’t actually done.
Doing something on a consistent basis is not easy. Podcasting every work-day, or even every week can be monotonous. What would you recommend to others about how to maintain discipline and consistency? What would you recommend to others about how to avoid burnout?
If you pay attention to my monetization tips below and if you are money motivated, it’s very easy to stay disciplined when orders are coming in every day. Having guest interviews also makes things way more interesting and fun to hear their stories and it takes a workload off you to come up with all the content.
What resources do you get your inspiration for materials from?
My everyday work on the Internet and questions I get from my mentees give me the topics most in demand. My Internet marketing school updates our curriculum sometimes daily which no other school on earth does. I’m proud of that fact so that my students get up-to-the-minute training. This keeps me motivated to consistently seek out, try out and teach the never-ending supply of software, services and techniques to earn money online. Some resources are Planet Ocean, Warrior Forum, ClickBank, JVZoo and numerous newsletters from other marketers.
Ok fantastic. Let’s now shift to the main questions of our discussion. Is there someone in the podcasting world who you think is a great model for how to run a really fantastic podcast?
In my field the obvious answers are John Lee Dumas from “Entrepreneur on Fire” (I’ve been on there twice) and Pat Flynn from “Smart Passive Income”.
What are the ingredients that make that podcast so successful? If you could break that down into a blueprint, what would that blueprint look like?
Credible and interesting guests and consistency. Also, they got in early which I feel is a mistake on my part. I pooh poohed podcasts for a long time because nobody was making much money and to me it just seemed like an ego trip. Getting in earlier would have made it easier for me to gain market/listener share.
To put it in blueprint form:
- Good intro that grabs people’s attention
- Fast paced
- For interviews, glib guests that entertain, inspire and teach
- For non interviews you inspire and teach
- Natural host driven and read sponsorships as opposed to canned commercials
- Consistent schedule
- Teasers to past and future episodes
You are a very successful podcaster yourself. Can you share with our readers the five things you need to know to create an extremely successful podcast? (Please share a story or example for each, if you can.)
Can you share some insight from your experience about the best ways to: 1) book great guests; 2) increase listeners; 3) produce it in a professional way; 4) encourage engagement; and 5) the best way to monetize it? (Please share a story or example for each, if you can.)
- A perfect place to start is the National Speakers Association. Everyone there has a big mouth hahaha, a story to tell and most are very good at telling it. There are numerous experts in all kinds of topics and they all love publicity. Except for the big superstars, you will rarely get turned down if they see you have a well-produced podcast. I also watch TV and take notice of the guests. You know most of them love publicity or they wouldn’t be there. I got Jason Hanson on my podcast just by contacting him after seeing him on a TV segment. He’s the ex-CIA guy who teaches people how to stay safe. Now he’s considering being an affiliate for one of my products.
- You can increase listeners by requiring….or at least asking nicely, that they promote their appearance on their social media and/or email list. Some will and some won’t bother. We make it easy on them by giving them a graphic with their picture on it and pre-written posts. You can also advertise on other podcasts, or do a podcast tour yourself where you appear on other people’s podcasts. I’ve gotten lots of customers and subscribers from my appearance on “Entrepreneur on Fire”, “Conscious Millionaire” and many others.
- We had intro and outro music and voiceover done for “Screw the Commute”. I got a good microphone, an iMac, a mixing board and various other equipment to get really good audio quality. I had no idea how to hook it up, so I hired an audio guy to do it for me. I record into Adobe Audition and have two backup digital recorders going at different recording levels just in case I accidentally hit a knob and me or my guest overmodulates. I also, send a pretty strict, yet nice sounding email to my guests about what is required of them so that we get as high a quality as we can over the Internet. We used to use Skype but found it to be sketchy so we switched to Zoom and have never had any problems.
- I like Adobe Audition because it makes it easy for me to highlight a section of my .wav, capture a noise print, and then remove low-level noise from my entire track. I do the same for the guest track. Then I put a 20db noise gate to attempt to capture any other low-level noise. Then, if necessary, I run my track through a de breath module in case my breath came through too loud in the file.
- I do giveaways of valuable information products where people have to opt in get them. I constantly refer to cool things they can get by visiting my show notes which are very extensive and include the entire transcript of each episode which I get for free. Want to know how?
- I’m an affiliate for an online transfer service that costs $5.00 per recorded hour and has the transcript back to you in about ten minutes at usually 93%+ accuracy. As an affiliate, I don’t get paid in cash. I get paid in free minutes. For every person I send to them I get 100 transcription minutes which is 1.5 to two episodes of my podcast. So far, I haven’t paid a penny for 264 transcriptions.
- I also give out my phone number and email address and invite people to contact me to discuss various things I talk about on the podcast.
- To monetize my podcast, I make myself the sponsor. When I was researching this topic, I saw that sponsors pay about $12 — $18.00 per thousand downloads. Please don’t quote me on that, because since I’ve never had an outside sponsor, I really don’t know what they pay. What I can tell you is that it’s not easy to get 1000 downloads so you really have to have a pretty well-liked and well-downloaded podcast to make any money. Not so when you are your own sponsor.
- I have products ranging from $17.00 — $19,100.00 and some of the products have commissions involved up to $50,000.00 One sale of anything even in the low-end range is more than I would make from an outside sponsor. One big sale makes more money than most podcasts make in their lifetime.
- You don’t have to have your own products. You would still make more from affiliate products you can get from places like Clickbank and JVZoo.
- Also, I’ve said for years, “If you have a mouth, you have a product.” Even beginning coaches make $50.00/hour or more and most a lot more than that. If you have enough info to have a podcast about a topic, you probably have enough info to coach at least beginners on that topic.
For someone looking to start their own podcast, which equipment would you recommend that they start with?
It depends on if they are going to do interviews or not. If they aren’t doing interviews, any modern PC or Apple Computer is fine. An Apple computer will already have Garage Band on it which will be your recording software. On a PC you can get free Audacity software. Sound Forge or Adobe Audition are great, but will cost you a few bucks. A good microphone is essential but doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Used Yeti’s can be found on buying apps like Facebook Marketplace and Offer Up for $50-$75.00. A Zoom 1 digital recorder for backups can also be found for about $50.00 (this is not to be confused with Zoom conferencing service).
If you’re going to be doing Interviews, I would use Zoom and I WOULD NOT USE A PC. I had nothing but trouble and expense trying to use a Windows 10 PC. When I went in to the Apple Store I actually asked them, “If I was going to shoot a Windows 10 Laptop, should I use a pistol or a shotgun?” hahaha I bought an iMac and not one glitch in 266 episodes.
If you’re doing interviews, unless you are really tech savvy, I would have an audio person hook it up for you. You ABSOLUTELY must record your guest on a separate track from you. If you don’t and they have different volumes and noise problems than you, you will spend hours in editing that would only take a minute or less if they were on a separate track.
Ok. We are almost done. 🙂 Because of your position and work, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I have been speaking at fundraisers for years. My movement would be for everyone that speaks in public to start doing more fundraising seminars which create a win/win/win situation and does a lot of good in the world. The speaker makes money, the group sponsoring the fundraiser makes money and the people attending the seminar get great value. I have a free webinar telling all about speaking at fundraisers at https://joinnow.live/a/BDVIKw
How can our readers follow you online?
Subscribe to my podcast at:
Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/screw-the-commute-podcast/id1406451900 Or any major podcast host.
Get my podcast app at https://www.ScrewTheCommute.com/app
Grab my free Business Automation eBook at https://www.ScrewTheCommute.com/automatefree
Check out my mentor program https://www.GreatInternetMarketingTraining.com
Check out my school https://www.IMTCVA.org
Thank you so much for sharing your time and your excellent insights! We wish you continued success.