DiscoverGo-To Gal with Jaclyn Mellone: Online Marketing + Mindset for Female EntrepreneursLeveraging Collaborations for Audience + Revenue Growth with Agnes Kozera
Leveraging Collaborations for Audience + Revenue Growth with Agnes Kozera

Leveraging Collaborations for Audience + Revenue Growth with Agnes Kozera

Update: 2021-02-16
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Episode #160. Are you ready to get brands to pay you and pay you more than ever before? Or maybe you’re on the other side of things and want to work with creators to promote your offers. While talking to Agnes Kozera about both sides of this equation, I realized you could actually be both an influencer and a brand working with influencers. There are so many opportunities out there! Listen now to learn how to get attention from brands regardless of your download count, how to monetize as a podcaster and what creators really want from the brands they work with.





In This Episode You’ll Learn:





  • How Agnes has changed the way creators (and podcasters!) monetize
  • Keys to getting attention from sponsors even if you don’t have big numbers
  • Why you might consider getting paid to interview a sponsor on your podcast 
  • Who creators want to work with and how you can be a brand they’ll support
  • What trends Agnes predicts we’ll see in podcasting in the upcoming years




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Favorite Quotes:





“All sizes of creators and podcasters and youtubers can convert for your brand. You shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket and go for the most popular star.”





“Podcasting takes authenticity to another level because there’s that conversational storytelling aspect.”





“Podcasting is going to infiltrate a lot of other mediums because audio is already so powerful. When you combine it with these other mediums, whether it’s for promotion or driving more listenership to your audio content, it’s very special.”





More About Agnes:





Agnes Kozera is the co-founder of Podcorn, the self-service marketplace connecting podcasters with advertisers for native sponsorships. Podcorn gives podcasters the creative control to monetize their content with the right brands and enables advertisers to collaborate on organic ads that resonate with listeners, driving business results. 





Prior to Podcorn, Agnes was a product manager at Google, which in 2016 had acquired FameBit, the company she’d co-founded that became Google’s branded content arm. FameBit was the leading marketplace where brands and YouTube stars collaborated for branded content—it was one of the fastest-growing startups, working with top brands such as Adidas, L’Oreal, Marvel, Office Depot and Dollar Shave Club. Agnes’ first entrepreneurial endeavor was SeasonsBox, a subscription-based service that sent members eco-friendly products each month. Agnes received her B.A. and M.A. from York University. She is based in Los Angeles, CA.





Find Agnes:









Show Transcript:




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Jaclyn Mellone  


Agnes, I’m so excited to have you here today.


Agnes Kozera  


Likewise, this is such a treat.


Jaclyn Mellone  


Yes. Okay. So before we talk about you, and all of the amazing things you are up to now, take us back to when you were growing up, what were you the go to gal for back then?


Agnes Kozera  


Yeah, I think it was something to do with writing and communications. I’ve always sort of had a natural talent. So whether it was helping friends with their English homework, or even as I got older, helping colleagues with a strategic email or, obviously, for my own companies, doing the narrative and the branding and positioning, I’ve always been very good at storytelling. So I think that’s always been my natural ability, which I think also attracted me to law  because it is a lot about crafting stories. And then it’s also what attracted me to advertising and influencer marketing and that whole space as well. So I feel like I’ve always been leveraging that skill set since I was little up until now and can continue to do so.


Jaclyn Mellone  


I can see that. Okay, so fast forward to today. What do you do? And who do you help?


Agnes Kozera  


Yeah, so I am a co-founder of a company called Podcorn. Podcorn is a marketplace that connects brands and podcasters for native advertising. So that’s anything from host read ads to product reviews, q&a, and interviews that brands can actually be on the podcast, anything that brands and podcasters want to collaborate on. What we strive to do is really solve for the discovery aspect because there’s so much fragmentation, especially in the podcasting space. So if you are a brand or if you are a podcaster, who wants to find a brand? How do you go about doing that? How do you even find how to contact a podcaster? Even if you look them up on Spotify or Apple and you find great podcasts, you don’t really see their contact information. You can’t communicate, and it’s not really safe necessarily for the podcaster because how do you actually get paid for the work that you do for the brand? So we strive to streamline the entire process from finding podcasters to hiring them. We hold the money securely in escrow throughout the entire duration of the campaign. So podcasters are always assured that they’re going to get paid for the work that they do. And brands are also assured that they have the brand safety to be able to review content or request edits, before it goes live and to actually know what episode is going to live in. So it’s whether it could be too controversial for them, they can make that decision. And yeah, we strive to help podcasters make a lot of money in the process because we found even though there’s over a million amazing shows out there 85% of the ecosystem hasn’t been able to monetize through traditional advertising. Because it’s so impression based, and it’s so focused on how many listeners you get versus what niche you are in, or what expertise you have to offer the brand’s industry or the length of the integration that you’re going to do for the brand. So we help facilitate all that. 


Jaclyn Mellone  


I think it’s so brilliant what you came up with Podcorn. And I, actually, some of my peers to podcast students are the ones that introduced me to it. I’m like, wow, this is really cool what they’re doing. So I’m excited to have so many questions about all of that. But before we get there, tell us Where did the idea for Podcorn come from? What were you doing before that?


Agnes Kozera  


Yeah, so actually, Podcorn. As an idea came together from my previous experience and my previous startup, prior to Podcorn. I was a product manager at Google working on alternative monetization for creators. So I’ve always been very passionate about leveraging different mediums for monetization and advertising for brands. But prior to that, I was a co-founder of a company called FameBit. I co-founded a company in 2013. That was the first marketplace connecting youtubers to brands for endorsements. We started that company when everyone sort of looked at YouTube still as a place to look at cat videos. But we really saw the emergence of creators as next generation celebrities having this incredible influence. And then that company, I actually sold to Google in 2016, which was incredible, because that was the perfect home. I mean, we were tailoring to YouTubers, so to get acquired by Google and then to integrate into YouTube. That was a dream come true, not only for me as a founder, but also just the things we were able to do. We were able to accelerate our vision so much more quickly. And Prior to FameBit, FameBit actually came together from a problem that I encountered at my previous startup that I founded called Seasons Box, which was a subscription service, focusing on full size products for your home, body, and spirit. And it was eco-friendly stuff. So that was the first sort of eco-friendly for size, full size products. And I had no money to market it, I had no idea how to go about it. I was at the time, studying law, and I was a starving student, so I didn’t have money. And that was sort of like a side project that turned into a company. And, but I was watching a ton of YouTube and I was influenced by the youtubers to buy a ton of stuff. And I thought, well, why don’t I see if they can maybe feature my subscription on their channels. And I did before I knew I had a handful of creators that were really excited to work with me. And that converted really well for my small startup. And before I knew it, I saw that that was the thing I had like a commodity business, I suppose. But the thing that was really driving it was the creators and I saw wow, if I can put this magic in the hands of other brands, regardless of their size, there can be a lot of good that I could do in the ecosystem. So that’s sort of how all that came to be.


Jaclyn Mellone  


Well, I knew a lot of the highlights of that story but I didn’t know that connected of that the idea for fame that came from not you being an influencer and wanting to monetize but from you being on the other side and saying I have this product and I want to be connecting with these influencers and there’s no easy way to do it. I really tapped into you because you saw it through the lens of that other side right you were able to connect those dots that may be us on the quote unquote influencer side don’t really realize how that other world works or what people would be wanting to know or be able to access more easily.


Agnes Kozera  


Absolutely. And I think that being the small brand and working with the smaller creators because at the time when I started season box there were multi-channel networks and agencies focusing on cultivating the largest stars and and very expensive stars so to speak. So I, as a small brand, would never be able to afford those creators. It was only by chance and my inability to actually afford creators that I saw the power of the long tail and the small creators and the fact that you don’t need to have 100,000 subscribers to move the needle for a brand. It’s really about the engagement that you have even if it’s small. And I think that we’re seeing a startup  if you have a small community of power users or power customers that goes a lot further for your company than having a lot of general people that may not have the love for your brand and so being able to tap into that. I saw the power of it and then with Podcorn, that came to be because when we looked at the podcasting space, we saw that it was blowing up as this next big creative medium, but that there were so many of the same problems that we saw in the early days of the video influencer. But the reason I got so excited about this medium is because of the authenticity and the conversational storytelling that you can do. I mean with Instagram you have 15 seconds to capture an attention with video you have maybe 10 minutes but with a podcast you have 30 to 90 minutes to do something really authentic.


Jaclyn Mellone  


So true. You’re preaching to the choir. Oh, so what was I thinking that your own story here is a great example. So I just want to dive into it a little bit but with it was seasons back. So what was the box about?


Agnes Kozera  


Yeah, so it was eco-friendly, full size items for your home body and spirit. And the idea is that every box would embody a season. So whether it was fall it would be all the items that you might need for fall whether it be an umbrella or a pumpkin spice, latte mix, things that would make you feel and experience the season. So even if you were in a place like Elon you could actually feel nostalgia and an experience and it was about working with small up and coming companies things you wouldn’t discover in the mainstream stores or easily find online. It was about giving access to these amazing founders and these amazing products that may not have wide distribution. So this is why she was so good for influencer marketing because it was giving them that additional exposure where these craters were like, wow, I just discovered this handmade scarf from this amazing brand that I’m not going to buy from all the time. So yeah, that’s sort of was the premise for it. And it was really just a passion side project. It was in the early days of subscription commerce, I think Birchbox had just come out. And I love curation and loving storytelling through products and building experiences. And I really saw that as something I could tap into.


Jaclyn Mellone  


So creative, what types of influencers were you reaching out to? I want, I’m asking these questions, because I don’t think people are thinking like this, right. And now someone listening may have a product based business, or may have a service based business, something totally different. So we’ll get into that. But I’m just curious, what was your first example of this? You didn’t even know that you’re what, you were onto with this concept? What types of youtubers were you reaching out?


Agnes Kozera  


Yeah, that’s a good question. It really depended on what was in the box for that particular month. So if it was more fitness focus stuff, I would reach out to health and nutrition and fitness podcasters. If there was, so it sort of depends, when there was more clothing or scarves or things like that, I would reach out to creators who are in fashion to integrate it, but also a lot of just lifestyle creators. So anyone who would target the customer that I wanted to reach. And a lot of it was sort of just diversifying my spend working with as many creators as I could, that looked very different from each other. And had very different content just to see what worked. And I think that’s the thing with influencer marketing, you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket and go for the most popular or biggest star. I mean, it’s nice when you have the budget to spend to include them, but I think all sizes of creators and podcasters and youtubers can convert for your brand. And you also get a lot of different quality content, like I had incredible unboxings that’s still I think live on youtube somewhere for seasons box where these creators were not only brand ambassadors for me, but they’re also my first customers to give me feedback on. Like, what I could do with my next box and things like that I think is very valuable for a lot of friends, especially when you’re starting out.


Jaclyn Mellone  


Absolutely. So when you say influencer, what do you mean? Who should be thinking of themselves as an influencer?


Agnes Kozera  


Yeah, anybody who creates content and cultivates some sort of following. It doesn’t have to be big, but as long as you’re an expert in your niche, whether that’s fasting, or crypto or parenting or entrepreneurship. And you cultivate a following around that where people come and listen to what you have to say, or come and watch your videos. I think that’s an influencer. So if you can tap through one person to reach many people at once, that’s the influential part of it. And I think that is very difficult for brands to build for themselves from scratch. But if you can tap into many people who have cultivated these incredible communities, and who rely on these creators to be a trusted sort of friend to tell them what works, what doesn’t, or how to do something. And if you are a brand that fits within that industry, and within that story, and if the creator actually loves your product, and wants to share it with their listeners or viewers, then that is where the magic happens. It shouldn’t be anything that’s forced what I mean? That’s why it’s really about the matchmaking of it all and finding the right mix and the right match.


Jaclyn Mellone  


Absolutely. Is there a threshold or like, okay, if you’re not, if you don’t have like, this many followers with as many listeners, like maybe work on building your audience first before you think about this.


Agnes Kozera  


I mean, I think in terms of because we’re an open marketplace, we really wanted to open it up to see what happens to see who brands want to hire how podcasters are pitching themselves because we allow podcasters to pitch their own voices and brands. But I think if you are getting a 1000 downloads or listens per episode, and I think that is something that brands get really excited about because then that’s already 1000 people that are within a particular niche. But yeah, I mean, I see podcasters get hired who have 500. It’s really about the passion also. You have for the brand, and how you pitch yourself or what you offer to create. If you’re an expert in hacking your metabolism, for instance, and a brand has a product within that specific industry, then being interviewed on your podcast creates to them a lot more value than working with someone who has 20,000 listeners. But their general and it’s like pop-culture and it might not mean anything to the brand. So it’s as long as you have the right fit, you can command money for that listenership.


Jaclyn Mellone  


So you just touched on something that I preach to our podcasters, or podcasters to be all the time. So I just want to zoom in on that and make sure people didn’t miss anything, because there were a couple pieces to that. One was the niche of having the fact that they’re willing to pay to get in front of that audience because it is specific, even if it’s small. So what is a niche look like?


Agnes Kozera  


Yeah, so it could be, like I said, it could be in health and nutrition, but you are an expert on fasting. And this is a juice cleanse brand that wants to educate people about the power of juice cleansing. And if you are a nutritionist and an expert, your word goes a lot further than someone trying it for the first time and just saying how cool juicing is. So I think, and I think that’s what’s so special about podcasting compared to other mediums is that there are so many experts and subjects whether it’s moms who love wines, or I don’t know, like I said crypto or finance or entrepreneurship or getting ecommerce businesses off the ground, and you are a shipping solutions provider, and you want to help ecommerce startups leverage your shipping solutions company, partnering with those specific creators goes a lot further than just sort of going more general. No, of course, if you are maybe a general snack subscription company or have a product that applies to a wider demo, like when you’re only trying, if you’re a mobile game and trying to reach just women, for instance, then I would say you should cast a wider net, also diversify your spend with a lot of different verticals. See what converts for you, because for instance, we have a mobile company that uses our service that works with a ton of true crime podcasts, because they found that the majority of women actually listen to true crime. And that is where their target market sets. So by trying a lot of different verticals, whether pop-culture or lifestyle, they were able to decipher that converts best for them. So it’s really about being open to trying and diversifying your spend and giving a lot of creators the freedom. Also not scripting, but the freedom to do what they do best because they know their listeners and you want them to deliver it in their own voice. And that’s how you get a lot of content. And you also learn you learn as a brand. 


Jaclyn Mellone  


Absolutely. And I think this really reinforces the idea, something I preach about a lot in general for business is to have that niche to be the go to gal for something and for a specific group, right? And what’s reinforcing this is brands are looking for that to you. So not only is that going to be an effective strategy for you, but when you lean into that brands are going to be more willing to pay you and pay you more because it’s absolutely not it.


Agnes Kozera  


Absolutely. And especially when you are in a vertical where there’s not a lot of competition or that’s not very saturated, and you’re an expert in a niche that’s actually very attractive and can prove to be very lucrative, not only from actually capturing audiences a lot faster because you’re attracting a community of people who are looking for this specific thing but also for bread. So not that being general isn’t good. Obviously I think it also has its opportunities because then you can work with a lot of different brands, but sometimes it’s about cultivating and whether you will have a parenting podcast, but then you also talk about fitness. So you have these two things that you really cultivate an expertise on that brands can leverage. So it’s not necessarily that you have to be this one thing, but you have to find your thing. And I think that’s, that’s really important.


Jaclyn Mellone  


Absolutely. Now, the other thing you kind of snuck in there, but I don’t think a lot of people think about or maybe they even think negatively about is this idea that a brand would pay you to come on and do an interview. So some people are immediately cringing, like, I wouldn’t want to charge for guests like that feels gross. Or other people’s minds might be exploding, like watch people are just gonna have guests on for free. Like, there’s people out there that would pay me for this. So what does that look like? Is it gross? Is there a way to do it? What have you seen work? 


Agnes Kozera  


Yeah. I mean, no, I think as I said, like, I think with podcasting, it takes authenticity to another level, because there’s that conversational storytelling aspect. And I think by having a brand as a guest, you can be a lot more inquisitive, and more journalistic. And you can give your sort of listeners, more information. You can ask friends tough questions especially when you’re an expert in an area. It’s kind of influencer marketing is not about positive endorsements, it’s about honest relationships, and finding brands that you actually want to work with. So you can absolutely decide you don’t want to take money for having that brand as a guest, like so many times I see podcasters. And I’ve seen YouTubers do this who are big. They don’t need the money, but they see a brand that they like, and they’re like, “Hey, can I just collaborate with you?” And they’re not taking money, they’re still very honest about this as a partner we’re collaborating. I think honesty is if you put out honesty out there, I think that takes the yuckiness away from it, because you’re not hiding that you’re getting paid. And I think that’s where a lot of the yuckiness could come from. But if it’s the right partnership, and if it’s guests that you want to have on your podcast anyways. And it’s someone that you would actually even want to pay almost to have them as a guest, and they’re willing to pay you because they think you’re an expert. It’s a two-way relationship. And I think that is a huge opportunity.


Jaclyn Mellone  


Absolutely. Now, as you’re talking, and I went into the conversation knowing this, but as you’re talking, it’s just becoming more and more clear to me as we don’t necessarily have to think of ourselves as the influencer or as the brand, we could really be both. Yeah, a lot of us probably are both right? Where we could both be that influencer who’s collaborating with brands, but we could also step into the shoes like you’re early on, when you were discovering this idea of Geez which influencers should I be reaching out to promote my thing or to collaborate with? Have you seen different types of businesses? I know, we’ve talked a little bit about product-based businesses, but for those people listening that maybe have a service-based business or have a course or agency or something like that, do you have other or other business models that this isn’t a good fit for?


Agnes Kozera  


Yeah, well, first of all, you touched on something interesting about both sides of the influencer. I think an interesting thing that we’ve seen cultivate on its own within Podcorn is influencers, being the brands and then posting themselves as “Hey, I want to collaborate to grow my listenership with like minded podcasters, within my industry who may be bigger than me, or who may be the same size or who I can help out with.” So we’re seeing this trend of influencers merging over to be their own brands, because you really are. I think that’s the powerful thing about tapping into any influencers is that you have cultivated a brand that another influencer can leverage or another brand can leverage. So from that perspective, it’s very wide open. As long as you can find others to collaborate with it doesn’t matter if you consider yourself the creator or the brand. We’re all building audiences or building listenership or customers. But on the brand side, it’s actually what I’ve noticed, it’s so much more inclusive podcasting than even video is because not every brand is right for visual and with video, you’re capturing attention in the screen moments. But with podcasting, you can reach people when they’re doing the dishes or house chores, or they’re being creative and artistic, and they’re painting and they’re also listening to a podcast or they’re going for a walk. So all your time is sort of limitless. And I think a lot of studies are showing that people are seeking out podcasts for knowledge and education. So whether it’s self help, or learning how to get an e commerce business off the ground, or learning how to get into fasting and nutrition and into a healthier lifestyle, it’s really a portal to educate. And so it is inclusive of a lot more advertisers, b2b companies, that wouldn’t necessarily be right, or like finance or investing apps, you can go a lot more in depth on products that require a lot of education. For instance, metabolism is sort of figuring out how to make your metabolism more effective. We have a brand that we worked with, called lumen. They’re a device that helps you get the most out of your metabolism that measures your metabolism. And so, they worked with experts in the space who are either like biohacking podcasts or fasting or nutrition or health and fitness gurus. And they were able to see a 300% return, just by really focusing on creators who can ask the hard questions, and that Britain did a bunch of interviews, and they were able to tell their founding story, which is also inspirational to some things here from the brand as well. So, yeah, I think it’s encompassing a lot more advertisers from sort of direct to consumer products. Anything like beauty, health and fitness, I think podcasting is also changing. It’s in this process, where it’s still growing, as we’re seeing a lot of creators from a lot of different mediums, whether it’s instagram or YouTube come over, and they’re creating new types of content in this medium that we would have never imagined before. Like, what does a hole look like? In a podcast, right? Like you have sneaker heads or sneaker obsessed creators now creating sneaker podcasts and things like that are very different. So, yeah, I think it’s gonna be even more encompassing of a wider sort of circle of friends, as we see in the medium evolve, but is it anything and everything?


Jaclyn Mellone  


Well, it’s very encouraging and hearing all these examples just as my wheels are turning. It’s definitely a different way of thinking about this. And from the brand side, is there a certain level we would have to be at at that point? So thinking from the influences, you have this many followers, as a brand, are there things that influencers are looking for, to want to be able to partner with a brand?


Agnes Kozera  


Yeah, I think a lot of things that creators are looking for is freedom, freedom to have the creative ability to do something that fits natively with whatever it is that they’re already doing. A lot of creators don’t want to script something that they don’t want to push. Something that they don’t like, they want the freedom to be able to decide which products for instance, from like a line, a clothing line that they pick that they choose, that they actually want to endorse. So I think freedom goes a long way. If you’re a brand, and you throw it and open it up to the Creator, to be able to decide what is it that you can do that you think would be beneficial? Like, I don’t think a brand should go out and say, I only want interviews or even host read ads, I think Nielsen came out with a study recently that hosts read ads to increase purchase intent by 50% already, like more so than traditional advertising. So even giving the flexibility for podcasters who say, I think this will fit more as a host right? I had done an interview, or maybe we can do a giveaway or just giving them the flexibility to choose what content fits in not every podcasters interviewer that is sort of a different skill set in and of itself. So, freedom. I think freedom is a big thing.


Jaclyn Mellone  


It’s such a great point. It also is like, okay, well we have freedom, but that also means everything is on the table. Oh, so you mentioned a couple that is doing a giveaway or doing a host read ad or doing an interview. Are there other types of partnerships of what these collaborations look like? Or what would it look like? I’m curious as to sometimes when we think about when we think about something like this on a podcast, we think about doing a host read ad or just having that ad placement there on other platforms that might be like a sponsored post or something like that. But you’re mentioning with the interview, that’s a little bit of a different angle, and a giveaway. That’s a fun idea. So what are some of these other things that maybe we haven’t thought of yet?


Agnes Kozera  


I mean, honestly, it’s really sometimes. That’s why it’s so good to open it up to the podcaster community, because they’ll come up with ideas based on the type of content that they already do. That would be really unique, but even around people discussion where you might have other guests. Let’s say you’re not an expert in a particular topic, but you are having a nutritionist as a guest, and then implementing the brand in that discussion, or just discussing the industry, sometimes it doesn’t have to be an outright thing where you are, in detail, talking about a product, but sometimes even talking about a brand solves a need in a particular industry, and just having a mention of them with the right guest on the podcast could be influential. It’s really anything and everything, even from my holster perspective, it doesn’t have to be like a pre roll, mid roll or a post roll. It could be where you find a way to integrate the brand as part of your introduction, where you’re talking about, like your latest obsessions of the week, or the month or, or things like that. And it’s that’s why I think when you give the freedom to the creators who are content experts, sometimes you’ll get more creative ideas than the most coveted agencies are. So I think that’s why that part is important to open up to the creators. So we’re still learning and I’m sure that what the content integrations and sponsorships look like a year from now will be a lot different than what they look like today, as the space matures. And as creators come up with more and more awesome ideas. I mean, even with YouTube, to be honest, when I first started FameBit there really weren’t books or get ready with knees or halls that sort of got cultivated by the influencer community who came up with these creative ideas to do for brand integration. So I see the same is gonna happen with them, with podcasting, like product reviews, like what an unboxing looks like in a podcast. So it’s very exciting.


Jaclyn Mellone  


It is okay and dumb question. But there are no dumb questions, right? So I have to ask, because if I’m thinking and I know someone listening is thinking it too. What is a haul?


Agnes Kozera  


A haul is when you get a bunch of products, whether it’s from a one brand, or a bunch of different brands, and you show off what you got, and you talk about your favorite items, or why you got them or why you got them from that particular bread. So it’s basically a reveal of things you’re interested in and acquired.


Jaclyn Mellone  


Okay, that makes perfect sense. It’s like a mega unboxing. I’m picturing a hallway. Like what is this all?


Agnes Kozera  


You can also find out? Yeah, you can also do a favorite episode like your latest obsessions of the month and integrate a brand creatively into that if they’re your favorite for the month, right. So there’s lots of creative ideas, and I think we can with podcasting, we can also learn from other mediums and see how, what we can take from other mediums and how we can implement it into podcasts. I think the other exciting thing about podcasting is that it’s so visible, the listenership is so movable for other platforms as well. So whether you are creating a podcast or whether you are creating a snippet of your podcast for Instagram or Twitter, I think that makes podcasting unique because that it actually fits into these other mediums really, really well.


Jaclyn Mellone  


Oh, I like how you phrase that with it’s movable. So you’re saying because this audio content can easily be shared on other platforms? Yeah, either as it is or in other ways, right, where you’re showing the transcript or putting the audio over a video or a picture or something like that.


Agnes Kozera  


Yeah, I mean, who’s to say that, in the future, YouTube is not going to be a podcasting platform. I mean, already creators with their podcasting content are turning it into a podcasting network. So I think, podcasting is going to infiltrate a lot of other mediums because it’s audio is already so powerful, but then when you combine it with these other mediums, whether it’s for promotion for driving more listenership to your audio content, or whether it’s just serving it in another format, it’s very special.


Jaclyn Mellone  


Okay, well, nobody listening could see my eyes like bowls when you just said what a YouTube was the podcasting platform like, “Whoa, oh, I love how your brain works.” Like, yes. Why not? That’s absolutely what’s happening. That thought has never crossed my mind before but that does make perfect sense. Oh, is there anything else you’re seeing with the trend of audio or with podcasting over the next year or a couple of years?


Agnes Kozera  


Yeah, that’s a very good question. I think looking through my experience window through everything I’ve learned through video, I think the one unique thing about podcasting, and also, I think, to the detriment of podcasting is that, unlike YouTube, for instance, or Instagram, which is very community driven, podcasting lacks that community aspect. And I say that’s to the detriment of the creator, because it’s not as easy in podcasting to go viral, or to break out as a star, because you’re not a YouTuber in podcasting, or you’re not a Spotify. You’re in podcasting, you’re a podcaster. So I think, over the years, I’m hopeful that more of a community aspect is going to build around it where the listeners are more engaged in interacting directly with you for the content that you provide, which is why I think right now, there’s an opportunity to leverage these other mediums for podcasting to be able to tap into that a little bit. But I think, and that’s why also, it is so important. I think what we’re doing with Podcorn, because there’s no community aspect, means bribes can’t also reach you as easily. And it’s not as easy for you to find opportunities as a podcaster. So I think it’s going to be up to hopefully, I’m ambitious people to build these products to be able to cultivate that community aspect and to provide more to the podcast ecosystem, because I think that’s gonna help the independent podcaster ecosystem grow. Because you have the agencies and studios that cultivated original content or bring on big stars, but what about the larger ecosystem? And that’s what I’m excited to help grow?


Jaclyn Mellone  


Absolutely. And I’m right there with you. Yes, like we need more in or I want to be able to comment back as people are listening or something. I would love that as an option. And better SEO too, because a lot of times I’m trying to find an episode on a topic, and SEO only gets you so far on these. 


Agnes Kozera  


Yeah, I do think search is going to get better. And I think also, that’s why there’s a huge opportunity for YouTube to do something with podcasting. And then that will make it more gamified, where like, your titles matter, or your show notes matter where you get indexed in search. So I think as there’s a lot more innovation over the years, and I think that’s what’s exciting is like all these acquisitions that are happening, but also like all the investment in the space that’s coming. That’s going to breed more innovation that’s gonna help founders create more value in this space. And I think that’s why podcasting is here to stay for the long haul, because there’s so much investment in this area.


Jaclyn Mellone  


Okay, so speaking of investment, although not literally what you just said, but kind of branching off from that. Yeah, I am so fascinated that you’ve had these multiple businesses and that you sold your business to Google, like when I read that I’m like, even though this is not probably what most of us are thinking as a goal or are trying to achieve or anything like that. It’s something you don’t hear very often. And maybe we shouldn’t be thinking bigger like that. And there are these opportunities that because we’re in our own circle of what the norms are, what the possibilities are, even if we think we’re reaching for high goals. You may not even be aware of these other opportunities that are out there. So did you ever think that you were going to sell a business to Google like, how does that happen?


Agnes Kozera  


Gosh, no, absolutely not. You don’t? Yeah, I never even could have imagined in a million years that would have happened. I think that when a lot of people ask me, like, how do you build a company for an acquisition, or it’s, you just have to focus on building something people want. And that’s how you’re going to get users. That’s how you’re going to get an acquirer. Google came to us. I don’t think it’s very difficult to try to get acquired. Google came to us and said we see that you’re providing all this value to the independent creator ecosystem, to the creators that aren’t maybe monetizing through AdSense. They’re actually able to keep their lights on and they’re telling us that it’s FameBit. And then you guys, are you interested in getting acquired? That’s sort of how it happened. And, yeah, I think when you’re building a company, you just have to focus on building value. I think the other aspect of it is trying to build a strong team. When we were going through the Google due diligence process, our team had to interview at Google and go through all that rigorous process to see if they actually fit in? Do we all fit in on Google? Can we have growth within Google? So I think building a good team is very important. And working with people that you actually want to be friends with, is very important, because you’re in it for the long haul. And I think the other aspect is ensuring that you’re buttoned up from a legal and accounting perspective really early on. I think a lot of founders, when they first start with their first companies, they’re like, “Oh, I can worry about doing this later, or incorporating later or, not being mindful of your terms of service, or how you’re harnessing data or so. I think even with Podcorn, we have counsel on our payroll like that is so necessary. So ensuring you have all those employment contracts, because there’s nothing worse you would want for your company to be doing all this good. And then someone looks under the hood, and it’s like, oh, shoot, we can’t acquire this. It’s so nice. AndI think also, strategic partnerships have been so helpful. With all my companies, with FameBit. For instance, we partnered with Shopify, which helped drive more ecommerce stores to FameBit and helped provide more opportunities to creators, which also made us a stronger company. And then with Podcorn, we partnered with a lot of different hosting providers from buzzsprout to automatic to RSS and others, that are also very valuable to the ecosystem and allow us to have a larger set of inventory for brands. And as you look at other startups, even like the way Facebook acquired Instagram, I think, I saw a video with Mark Zuckerberg, where he talked about how, at the beginning, they built a roadmap of what they can do together. It was more like a partnership discussion that led to an acquisition. So I think just thinking about how partnerships can lead to something and not being afraid of that because sometimes your partner can become your acquirer. I think like, maybe eight months to 12 months, before we got acquired by Google, they had us fill out this partnership thing, and it ended up leading to an acquisition we never ended up partnering. But if we were sort of shy to do that, and didn’t think it was worth our time, it might not have led to an acquisition.


Jaclyn Mellone  


Oh, that’s such a great and such a great tip. And I feel like we’ve come full circle and started the partnerships, you never know where they’re gonna lead and how that’s planted that seed of okay, so who maybe would fall into that category to open up the door for. Okay, let’s maybe connect with them as a partner first and see how that goes and kick the relationship off with something small do that first date first, before you just happen to a fun acquisition,


Agnes Kozera  


Sometimes, you can show a lot of what your value is, to a partner through a partnership. And then they’re like, oh, my gosh, I need to acquire this company, because we can do so much more together. And I think that’s also why we got acquired by Google is because they saw that we were together with their resources, we can feed so much more of the ecosystem of creators so much faster than we can as a start up. And to us that was the same mentality is that there’s so much value in partnership. And at the end of the day, like that’s all an acquisition is, it’s really a partnership, and combining resources to do something bigger. But there’s no magic wand that you can wave to get acquired. It’s really just focusing on building value. And that goes the same for fundraising. If you get users and you create something that people want, then funding will come. You don’t need to be an expert in fundraising. It doesn’t matter how many connections you have, if you don’t have a good product. No one’s gonna write you a check or maybe they’ll write you one check, but then they won’t write you any other checks. So it’s really just about value and the way you figure out how to build value is to dabble in different things. Think about how you can solve your own problems. I think I’m with FameBit and with Podcorn, like it really stemmed from my own problem as a small brand that came into this much bigger thing over time. So yeah, that’s my advice, I suppose, is trying to solve your own problems.


Jaclyn Mellone  


Yes. Well, thank you so, so much for sharing all of this with us today. I have a page of notes, you definitely have my wheels turning all the ideas. Oh, how can we stay in touch with you? And how can we check out Podcorn?


Agnes Kozera  


Yeah, so just go on podcorn.com, sign up, whether you’re a creator or brand, it’s completely free for brands to sign up, create a campaign. It literally takes a few minutes and then you can get proposals from creators for free as well. And you can sort through who you want to work with. And same for creators, it’s completely free to sign up. We’re sort of like you can think of us as an Airbnb where you have nothing to lose. We don’t take control over your podcast or your content. You have all the freedom that you can think of to collaborate with brands on your own terms. And yeah, that’s it’s. Super easy. So yeah, I recommend everyone to try.


Jaclyn Mellone  


Amazing. All right. Thank you so so much, Agnes.


Agnes Kozera  


Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.


The post Leveraging Collaborations for Audience + Revenue Growth with Agnes Kozera appeared first on Jaclyn Mellone || Go-To Gal Podcast.

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Leveraging Collaborations for Audience + Revenue Growth with Agnes Kozera

Leveraging Collaborations for Audience + Revenue Growth with Agnes Kozera

Jaclyn Mellone, Online Marketing Strategy for Freelancers, Experts, Personal Brands, Entrepreneurs, and Consultants