Turn Your First Show Interest Straight To A Powerful New Niche Podcast Network Like Dr. Joe Sallustio Of The EdUp Experience

TBF 102 | Niche Podcast


Transforming a niche podcast into a successful podcast may seem like a lot of work, but it is possible, and we will show you how. In this episode, Tracy Hazzard sits down for a lively interview with Dr. Joe Sallustio, a leader in higher education and one of the hosts of The EdUp Experience. Dr. Sallustio talks about how their podcast started, and how their show has changed over time. He shares the things they have done and accomplished with their podcast and he talks about engagement and monetization. If you have a niche podcast or are thinking of starting one, then this episode is for you.

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Turn Your First Show Interest Straight To A Powerful New Niche Podcast Network Like Dr. Joe Sallustio Of The EdUp Experience

I am going to level up our show. I’m going to EdUp our show because we’re going to talk about the EdUp Experience with Dr. Joe Sallustio. He said we can call him Joe. I like to call him Dr. Joe. He deserves that. Dr. Joe Sallustio is one of the nation’s foremost higher education experts. He has led a broad range of educational institutions, including a regionally accredited nonprofit university online, a regionally accredited for-profit university online and a nationally accredited for-profit college online and hybrid. Giving him a unique and effective breadth of knowledge in on-ground and online higher education administration. In this ever-evolving and competitive online higher education landscape, this diversity of experience is necessary to successfully lead a university into the future.

Joe is the Cofounder, Cohost and Coproducer of America’s Leading Higher Education Podcast and America’s Leading Higher Education Podcast Network. Beginning in February of 2020, the EdUp Experience has grown to surpass 55,000 streams of its episodes and counting, interviewing leaders from all across higher education and beyond. Joe has loved podcasting. He has come into this and loves it. They have seventeen shows on their network. They’re helping other people podcast through that process. Everything is focusing on EdUp, on growing the education. It makes sense. They’ve added a little bit of social justice in there. He’ll explain that as well. It’s interesting to see how you can grow from one show into a movement of things. That’s what I was excited about to have Dr. Joe Sallustio on so that we could talk about that and talk about what the EdUp Experience has turned into.

About The EdUp Experience Host Dr. Joe Sallustio

TBF 102 | Niche PodcastDr. Joe Sallustio is one of our nation’s foremost higher education experts. He has led a broad range of educational institutions including a regionally accredited non-profit university (online), a regionally accredited for-profit university (online), and a nationally accredited for-profit college (online/hybrid), giving him a unique and effective breadth of knowledge in on-ground and online higher education administration. In today’s ever-evolving and competitive online higher education landscape, this diversity of experience is necessary to successfully lead a university into the future.

With nearly two decades of experience in higher education operations, Joe has led teams in marketing, enrollment, finance, financial aid, student services, student affairs, human resources, accreditation/Title IV compliance, business-to-businesses relationships, and product strategy for on-ground/hybrid and online universities. Specifically, his extensive experience in scaling marketing and enrollment activities have driven the success of many of the institutions he has served.

Dr. Joe Sallustio is the Co-Founder, Co-Host, and Co-Producer of America’s Leading Higher Education Podcast and America’s Leading Higher Education Podcast Network. Beginning in February of 2020, The EdUp Experience has grown to surpass 55K streams of its episodes and counting, interviewing leaders from all across higher education and beyond.

Follow Dr. Joe Sallustio on Social:

LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Joe, thanks so much for joining me. I get to talk to someone who has not only a lot of podcast experience himself, you have a lot of cohost experience, which is rare, too and you have a network experience. This is going to be a fun conversation. I’ve been looking forward to talking with you.

Thank you for laying on the pressure thick right at the beginning, Tracy but I’m going to try to live up to the expectations here.

I’m not worried. I’ve listened to your show so I know you’ll be just fine. You started this podcast. One of your early cohosts pushed you and gave you an impetus into doing it. What made you want to do it?

They say timing is everything, Tracy. I believe that to be the case. I was doing a podcast as a contract host with this other outfit. It was a foray into podcasting. I didn’t know what I was doing. They provided a little bit of structure. I finished my doctorate degree right in December of 2019. It’s true what they say, that you take your entire life and you wrap it around your homework. In your dissertation, you have to get it done or else you’d be in school forever. When it’s done, you look around and you go, “How did I live before these 3 to 4 years of a Doctorate?” I don’t know what to do with it. “Should I go outside and cut the grass? Should I watch TV?” Right at that time, my soon-to-be cohost didn’t even know it yet. He sent me a text message and he said, “We should do something together.” He didn’t even say the word podcast. Before we came up with the idea of a podcast, I said, “Let’s do something together. I have all this time to fill.” There you have it. I said yes. He posted a podcast. We started and went with it.

It’s so great that you did have someone who had some background there and brought that together for you. Focusing your podcast and figuring out what you were going to talk about, I want to address that because sometimes that’s the hang-up for people and they don’t get it right. It frustrates them. They think they’ve got their topic down and they don’t. You hit on something that was good. You shifted it and molded it over time but you started with something that felt right for you. How did you go about deciding, “This is going to be our podcast.”

There was some planning but there was a lot of tripping and falling into ourselves along the way. “What are we talking about here? What do we have on our hands?” We had a conversation about something related to the podcast. We said to each other, “What is it that we have?” It surprises us still what we have on our hands. It takes out different forms. A lot of people look at higher ed like it’s this mythical creature. It’s unknown. When you think of higher education, a lot of times you think of elite higher education like Harvard and Yale. There are community colleges, private colleges and for-profit colleges. There are so many facets to higher education. We did an external scan. We said, “What podcast exists in this genre?” which is higher education, which number one, is super boring, Tracy. Listening to anyone talk about higher ed, maybe tax accounting.

I have to admit here that you didn’t get through my structure of processing fast because that’s exactly what I thought when I first saw your name. I pass it on to my team who bounced it back to me and said, “This is good. You should listen to it.” It didn’t go through my structure either. The expectation wasn’t high.

I don’t blame you. If you’re looking at higher education, who wants to talk about that? The answer is no one. When we did a scan of podcasts that exist in the higher ed space, there were only a couple that existed that focused on higher education. There were two things that we noticed. Number one, paint drying on a wall. You’re listening to it. I love higher education. I’ve worked in it for years. I can’t get through some of these episodes. I understand everything that they’re talking about. I said, “This is murderous.” No offense to anyone that’s reading. Number two, there were some elite guests. These podcasts want to talk to the President of Howard, Harvard and Yale. By the way, we did talk to the President of Howard.

Take your entire life and wrap it around your homework. Click To Tweet

What about all the other presidents, the smaller college presidents? There are a ton of students going a number of ways. There are a lot of innovative leaders in ed tech and higher ed. We thought, “Let’s talk to everyone on this podcast and make it for and of the people, as political as that sounds, and make it fun.” We started out super serious. It’s terrible to listen to our first couple of episodes. We said, “We’re going to roll with this. We’re going to make fun of each other and higher education. Along the way, we’ll talk about the issues,” so that somebody like yourself, Tracy, doesn’t pass us over and go, “These guys are terrible.”

I wasn’t worried about that. I figured after so many episodes that you had enough body of work that somebody must be listening so it must be worth it. Was it worth it in general? That’s the question. Are you going to be interested to listen to this in general? When you’re deep in a niche like that, doing your research helps. I applaud you for doing that because that can make the difference between figuring out how your show fits in, what your angle is and what you want to take on with that. You also found out there’s a market for it.

You have to iterate. We started figuring out who was listening. Anecdotally, we didn’t have the sophistication to understand who our audience was. We would find out because we’d have a guest on and the guest would go, “I’ve been listening to your podcast for the last month.” We go, “We’re starting to move on.” First of all, besides my wife, my cohost’s wife, our producer’s wife and our families, that’s all we thought of who is listening. For a while, that was true and then it exploded. When I say exploded in higher education, it’s not like the numbers are in the millions. We’re talking about a niche market but you’re talking about high-level business and industry professionals that are getting professional development from our podcast.

We’ve discovered that high-level administrators or professionals were getting professional development from our podcast episodes. It became greater than how many listens can we get? What kind of impact are we having in this space? What kind of impact are we having? As professional development, it’s something greater than just creating a podcast with no purpose and its purpose that matters. It became something greater than listeners. It was about the impact of the conversation.

Let’s do some of our five things because I do want to talk about the cohost dynamics, how you’ve added hosts and other things over time. I want to save that because some of these are more mechanical things. You probably went into your decision for some of those other things as well. Let’s do that first. The first thing that we talk about is getting great guests. You already said that you were looking at being expansive about your options for those guests. In that, how did you have criteria for who was going to make a good guest for the show?

We had no idea. We thought, “Let’s go find college presidents who are at smaller colleges that probably don’t have a lot of money to market themselves, where being on our show can become free organic content that they can create, that they can then take and repurpose as many ways as they want to.” You know as well as I do, Tracy, you could repurpose this show’s content a million ways from Sunday. You can turn it into transcripts, articles, audio clips and whatever you want. We started to generate a little bit of interest. We also started seeing ed tech companies who were interested in getting on an app or talking about their companies start to come to us.

We had some gracious guests at the beginning. We had some people that just wanted to come on the podcast. From there, it took on a life of its own. We couldn’t say no to anyone, which was part of our downfall. When you ask about five things you should not have done, I can answer that fast. It iterated and then we started refining that guest. We did find we had to say no to a lot of guest’s routes. We ended up with a ton of recordings more than you could release in a given week. All of a sudden, you’re behind. This guest starts knocking, “Where’s my episode?” We had to define it over time.

I know this is the hardest question but once you start to find you had listeners, how did you go about increasing them?

TBF 102 | Niche Podcast
Niche Podcast: If you’re just looking at higher education, who wants to talk about that? The answer is no one.


This might be an answer you’re not expecting. For us, we didn’t care as much about the number of people who are listening as much as the quality of the person listening. I know that probably doesn’t surprise you. The fact that we didn’t care about the number of listeners because we liked to podcast so much whether it was 1 person listening, 50 people or 500,000 people, we said, “We’re going to do this. We’re going to create a legacy.” These shows in higher ed or wherever people are podcasting, they don’t go away. If you’re in a specific niche or industry, it could be legacy content, used in a book or referenced in classes, courses across higher education. We started thinking about how it could be used. We said, “It might be a loss leader for us.” The podcast is what we do but then what happens with it? Do we do conferences? Do we speak about all our interviews? How do we take it to the next level beyond podcasting?

It doesn’t personally surprise me but it’s not an answer we typically get right here. I’m so glad you said that. That’s fantastic.

When listeners started coming, this is my ultimate tip but I’ll save it. This doesn’t surprise you when the guest has to share it. If the guest doesn’t share it, you’re not getting any more listeners. That’s a key component for anybody that’s starting out.

Producing like a pro, your show sounds good. You had some things going on there. It started out rough just like every show but it got better and better as you go on. What do you personally do in that process that helps you produce it like a professional?

I thank you for this amazing compliment you’ve given me because I feel like sometimes we are super rough still. We decided we’re not going to put so much. Here’s what we said, “We are about quantity because there are many missing conversations in higher ed. We’re going to put out as much content as possible.” Quality is secondary to that. We decided to take that risk. Your podcast’s quality is critical because people will turn you off if you have poor quality but for us, we didn’t care. If you don’t want to listen then don’t listen but we’re going to create some fun content. We did improve it over time. I swear to you, Tracy, I still forget to choose my microphone. I’ve chosen it for this.

It falls to the computer microphone and I’m getting ready to listen to this great guest named Tracy. I’m like, “I never chose my good microphone.” That is why I take that compliment. I thank you so much for it because sometimes I feel like an amateur when I do this. I try not to take myself too seriously. Liz and Elvin, we go, “This is fun for us.” We’re not going to take it seriously that we’re putting so much pressure on the perfect audio quality that can never be perfect. It’s always listening to yourself. You have too many you knows, sos and ums. That’s part of the game.

As long as it’s not excruciating to listen to like so bad that it hurts your ears, there’s no problem there. For the most part, I didn’t listen to every one of your episodes. I’m sure you had some guests that had some rough audios because it happens to all of us. You do the best you can but on your end, it’s very consistent and that’s important. It’s good for you. Have you gotten some engagement? How do you encourage that more with that audience and with your guests?

We made a decision way at the beginning that we were going to pick a social media platform and dominate on that social media platform. It’s easy to go, “It’s TikTok, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Clubhouse.” You got to pick something that you’re good at and figure out where your audience is first of all and with higher ed administrators and professionals, that’s where they were. The better-crafted audience for us was LinkedIn. We put all of our eggs in the LinkedIn basket. When we release episodes, they are coming out on LinkedIn, we’re tagging people and their organizations. We’ll DM first and second-level connections and say, “A person you know is in this podcast. Check it out.” That creates engagement. Somebody listens to it and people started sharing our podcast and saying that it is a great podcast. Every time somebody does that, it still blows our mind when somebody shares our stuff and goes, “We listen to the EdUp Experience.” We’ll text each other go, “Do you believe this still?”

Professional development is something greater than just creating a podcast with no purpose. Purpose is what really matters. Click To Tweet

I’m so glad you said about picking one. You pick the best one. If someone had come to me from your team and asked my strategic option for you, it would be, “Go straight to LinkedIn.” You chose the one that was already more comfortable for you because I’m sure that’s where you were already in.

We were three higher ed professionals.

You already knew that. I bet you find it fairly easy to engage back and forth with your guests there too, which helps the engagement overall.

If they share it, we attack their posts, all three of us. With our business account, we’ll all post. We’ll all tag each other. If they post something original with the link to the podcast episode, they will at least get four comments. One from me, one from Melvin, one from Liz and one from my business account. We do it every single time then we’ll start tagging our pod or in a hybrid pod of individuals that help engagement. We also created an infrastructure within LinkedIn to help boost our podcast engagement and the engagement of the guests by seeking our loyal fans, team and friends on those posts to give them a boost. When those get a boost, the guest comes back and goes, “I can’t believe that I got that much engagement. How do you do it?” That can create other revenue streams.

That tip right there, that’s something that we’re lucky enough to know in our team because we have a large enough team. The cohosting situation benefits you there. Three diverse people, all in the same industry, commenting back and forth and adding that value in there whether they’re grouped pages or individual accounts but the individual accounts doing that have a whole lot of power. Often, it’s the default that one of the cohosts in the process will do all the work. I say that as the person who’s always done all the work on social media in my cohost situations. That doesn’t have the boost that you found.

As many people as you can put on it. When you’re talking about LinkedIn engagement too, you’re talking about the number of followers. Every time you comment on somebody, your followers are seeing it, their followers are seeing it. Between the three of us as a team, at EdUp we have over 100,000 followers. Liz, my cohost, has 80,000 of them. Every time we do something, it’s in front of a lot of people. It continues to gain steam over time. Listeners come and go. Sometimes it’s the guests that they listen to and they don’t listen to the next episode. It is a passion project and a steam roller for us.

The last thing I ask about in my five things is how you monetize your show. You’ve been thinking about all these other things about what you’re going to do with it. What have you started with? What have you tried out in terms of monetization?

There’s the traditional airtime. You’re selling airtime. In our case for higher education, once we define the audience and we figured out who’s listening, we thought there are companies that want to be in front of these buyers. Our audience is the buyer. These are higher ed professionals, administrators with budgets, with money to spend. We find out that businesses wanted to be in front of these people. That was one way that we were able to monetize but it’s hard to do that continuously over time and earn something that’s reasonable. You can earn a couple of bucks to go buy yourself sushi once in a while but for our purposes, our audience seems like it’s going to max out at some point. We needed other ways to monetize.

TBF 102 | Niche Podcast
Niche Podcast: It’s a really niche market, but we’re talking about high-level business and industry professionals that are getting professional development from the podcast.


One way we’re doing that coming up for us is we’re doing live broadcasting from a conference. We’re being paid to attend a conference. It’s a technology conference in higher education with a company called Anthology, with who we’ve gotten very close with. They’re bringing us there to interview their guest onsite. I hate to say we’re a novelty but it becomes part of the media experience of this conference. That is one way that we are seeing our business model change. It’s an exciting change. Our podcast started in late January of 2020, right before Coronavirus. We have a Coronavirus business essentially. In conference attendance, in person is brand new for us. I’m like, “Can I go? Can we do this in person?” It’s figuring out this other way. That’s one way we’re thinking about and monetizing it over time.

You and I are going to have to have a post conversation about this because we were doing this before the pandemic then shut it down and didn’t do it for a year. Now we’re back up and running. We have some big lessons learned on what you need to prepare, what you can do and what live events are like. I did a coaching session for our clients. I’ll be happy to share that with you, Joe. You can get the tips that I’m going to talk about with Joe behind the scenes. I want to touch on your binge factor, Joe. I want to hit into your binge factor because you have hit it right. I want to continue the conversation because this is where your network started sprouting from. What I find is that when someone has a bingeable show, they don’t always know it. Joe, did you know people were binging on your show?

I didn’t think it would be humanly possible to binge a higher education show material, to be honest. I’m still surprised when somebody tells us, “I listened to the last 5, 7 episodes yesterday or the day before.” It will still blow my mind. We tried it. We think we have something special with our dynamic. My cohost, Liz, I and then the producer Elvin, when we said we wanted to make it fun. We try to make it funny by self-deprecating humor and making fun of each other. My cohost revealed that she can’t ride a bike. I rode that through the entire episode. One of our guests said it’s like looking under the hood. I said, “It’s like fixing the bike while you’re riding it.”

Making jokes along the way to make it more engaging, try to transcend higher education and pickup maybe a pop culture, a listener every now and then that’s interested in us. It’s the combination of us that makes the content bingeable. I mean this with complete passion in my heart for higher ed because I’ve worked at it for 20 years. Higher ed content is not bingeable. It has to have something else around it that packages it in order to make it bingeable. We think that it’s us as a team that does that. That’s my answer.

I’m going to tell you honestly, that’s the smaller part of it. It’s great that you have that dynamic. If I were evaluating your show amongst other podcasts, that dynamic of the different hosts, the way that you communicate together and the way that you ask questions together and fill the gaps of the others because you have different perspectives is a great dynamic. There’s no question about it. It’s a great component of the show. It is adding a lot of value but the reality is that the reason your show is bingeable is simply that there’s a gigantic gap in the marketplace for this information. If I want to expand my knowledge, if I want to be a continual learner and why in higher education, wouldn’t you want to be a continual learner? It seems obvious.

At the same time, there isn’t anything that fills that gap. Your competition is news and dry. That’s never going to fill the gaps. Your dynamic helped make you the choice in that gap but the reality is it’s that gap that makes the bingeability happen. That is critically important. Now you’ve amassed such a great amount of content in there that isn’t your typical content. It’s not all the same guests again and again that are on all the higher ed type of shows. That in and of itself also creates this great variety that I can’t help but want to go back through your episodes and pick and choose. Before you know what I’ve listened to, there are many of them that I’ve binged the entire content. That’s where your binge factor has come from. You have filled the gap beautifully.

I appreciate that outside perspective. We do hear that from a lot of community college leaders that we will have on, a community college president. When you think of higher education, the average consumer isn’t thinking about the community college. These community college presidents are telling us, “You’re doing something special by highlighting these other institutions that don’t get a highlight.” I appreciate that, Tracy. It’s good to hear that because we work hard to get in front of a lot of guests. Sometime later in the year 2021, we’ll have 100 university presidents that we would have interviewed, all with cool perspectives.

I can’t wait to see what you do with that when you’ve got 100 under your belt. What is that spinoff book, that article? What are these things look like? I’m looking forward to hearing what you do about that. One of the things you’ve done that I want to spend some time on is you’ve opened up and you’ve started a network, The EdUp Network. You have something like seventeen shows now. You don’t just have educationally based shows or higher education shows. You also have some on social justice. It’s expanded over time too. What made you decide that a network made sense for you?

We don't care as much about the number of people who are listening as much as the quality of the person listening right now. Click To Tweet

We go back to the original. I don’t remember when it was but we had someone ask us if we were interested in having a spinoff series of the EdUp Experience called EdUp EdTech. We were turning down, at that point, a lot of technology providers because we wanted to concentrate on the college president. We created a spinoff. I called it a spinoff. I don’t even know if that’s a podcasting term. It’s like a movie spinoff. A beautiful person named Holly Owens started at EdUp EdTech under our brand. We said, “We know this guy in Australia. His name is Warren Kennard. Could he start EdUp Australia?” We started going, “What if we had EdUp China and EdUp India?”

We got a little too big for our branches. We zeroed it down a little bit. We created five spinoffs of the EdUp Experience brand. Once that started gaining steam, we had other podcasts that were in higher education come to us and say, “Your brand is dominating in this space. Can we be part of this?” We started looking at them as affiliates saying, “We want to bring on affiliate podcast.” They’re part of the network. We grabbed a couple of education podcasts that were out there that were good ones. Liz, my cohost, does a lot of work in social justice. She connected with some folks in the social justice arena. The marriage of social justice and education is critical.

If you want to have educated, open and mindful leaders that are respectful of each other culturally, you have to have education and a heart. We said that that was a natural evolution for us. “Let’s open ourselves to some social justice-focused shows to integrate into the network.” It happened. We went from the EdUp Experience show this single week. Two weeks later, we had eight podcasts in the network. We didn’t even know what we’re doing, to be honest with you.

What is your thought about how to have the network working for you, working towards overall monetization and keeping everybody going? You got to keep everybody going as their podcast starts, exploring different areas, you want to keep that variety going.

That is critical. Part of the network expansion for us as we understand that every podcast we take on under the brand is going to make money. We know that but we feel a responsibility to boost them and help these other higher education professionals boost the message of their podcast. That’s the way we take our brand. We’re able to give back in a way that we wouldn’t have to do otherwise. We have this responsibility to the space of higher education but a share agreement of some kind where we have a couple of podcasts out there that are doing well. We take a percentage of what they make. It’s a small percentage. We want them to go out and make as much money as they can under our brand as possible. If we make a couple of dollars along the way, that’s great.

We have agreements in place with each of the seventeen podcasts in the network. If they go out and they make money, it’s great. If they go out and they don’t make any money, it doesn’t hurt us to have our brand. If you’re a higher education professional, chances are in a given day, you are coming across something EdUp Experience related. That for us was the win that we were on the front of the mind of education professionals all across the country, that our brand is dominating in this space. It’s something you think about when you hear about higher education. I thought EdUp was catchy. You’re always going to level up. You’re going to EdUp your skillset.

I love the title and the name. That is something that not everybody hits right but you hit it right. It’s fun. It has all the characteristics you wanted to. It’s nice, short and sweet but it means a little bit different to every person that hears it. It still resonates.

We went through 50 names and we said, “EdUp. You’re going to EdUp. We’re going to turn it into a verb.” When we send out our email to the guests to tell them that their show is live, we say that it’s time to EdUp. It’s like Facebook may EdUp. You need to EdUp. We’re trying to get it to catch to on fire.

TBF 102 | Niche Podcast
Niche Podcast: The podcast is what we do, but then what happens with it? Do we do conferences? And do we speak about all our interviews? And how do we take it to the next level beyond podcasting?


I love the idea of EdUp. That’s what I try to do every day in my life. Part of the reason I do this show is because I get to learn something every day. I bet you were learning stuff every single day. I hear that especially from your cohost. I hear Liz say something and you respond in a way that you’re like, “I didn’t know that. It’s a new perspective for me.” How does that feel to have an opportunity to learn on the job?

It’s humbling, to be honest with you. It’s brain-breaking sometimes to be collating and collecting all of this information from the leaders that are changing the minds of our kids, youth and adults going back to school, learning and the responsibility of each of these college presidents, leaders and CEOs have. We’ve been lucky to get some high-level folks, too, like the CEO of Logitech. They went from $8 billion to $14 billion during Coronavirus. It’s insane that the CEO was wanting to come to the EdUp Experience to talk about education. You think about how education is like a tentacle that’s running through everything that we do. It’s important. It’s so much information. It’s almost like an overload sometimes. I can’t believe we’ve spoken to that many people that are bringing this level of idea. It’s humbling, to be honest.

It’s one of my favorite parts but you’re right. It’s brain-melting sometimes. I have too much information. You got to figure out how to collate.

You have to synthesize it. When somebody says something, you’re like, “That’s so amazing. How do we take that? What do we do with this piece of information? Everybody should know about it.” You hear how grateful our guests are too that they have the opportunity to be on a higher ed podcast and be pushed out in social media in a way that they haven’t. They don’t even do it at their own institution in the way that we can do it because we’ve created the platform for it. It’s their appreciation, the gratefulness. It is truly humbling. We try to stay humble, too. That’s why I’m like, “We don’t even know what our value is.” We don’t want to get to the elite level. We’re going, “We only want to interview Ivy League presidents.” That’d be great if they want to come out. If I never interview an Ivy League president, I don’t care. There are lots of other college presidents out there for me to interview.

There’s a lot to learn out there. I love those stories that we don’t hear every single day that aren’t hyped up. I wrote a column for Inc. Magazine for years and they kept downplaying and saying, “We want to take your stories about Elon Musk and Steve Jobs.” I was like, “He’s dead. I can’t interview them.” These people are real. They’re here. I want their story. I want to hear about them because they’re struggling with that day-to-day of making the educational environment better, making it better for my kids as they grow up. I want to hear those stories, the ones who’ve gone through it and are super successful or have this gigantic budget. Not so much because not everybody can do that.

One of the most impactful things that are happening is the equity piece. It’s the access to education that’s been revealed due to Coronavirus. There are some amazing leaders out there in the community college area, private colleges that are doing hard work of reengaging a student population that has disappeared. You think about a community college student that’s one little carb fender bender away from quitting school. That person leaves the educational infrastructure to go get a job because they have a sick family member during Coronavirus. They don’t come back. What does that mean for our economy, for our supply chain and for our gross domestic product as you look into the future when you’ve lost an entire generation of workers? That’s a huge responsibility to find first-gen, students of color to bring education to them. There are lots of great leaders out there doing that level of impactful work societally that helps all of us in the future.

That was the one thing I was so excited to hear about on your show as I was listening to some of the episodes and checking them out because this is not my area of expertise. I have a niece who graduated from high school and chose not to go to college, even though she got into quite a few of them. She decided to just do the community college and work thing. She’s had this incredibly bad last year of high school experience that is making her saying, “It’s not that important to me anymore.” I keep thinking back because I had a great college experience. Everything was good about it. I keep thinking, “You’re missing it.” No amount of me saying that is going to change that. It’s going to take these schools getting them excited about education again to make the difference. Us aunts, uncles and parents can’t do that.

It’s interesting because students now are a lot more debt-conscious than I was. I didn’t understand debt. My parents certainly did when they were taking out money to send me to college. Students now are debt-conscious. Choosing a community college and getting those general education courses out of the way saves that student tens of thousands of dollars. She might end up going to the university and getting the experience for two years that you and I probably imagined that we had. That’s going to be great.

I was like, “It’s my baggage, I’m sure of it.” This is so great. This is why I love my job here because I get to hear about shows and different aspects of industries that I knew nothing about. I was like, “You want to know about higher education? I got the expert for you. You got to go see Dr. Joe. I got the EdUp Experience for you.” That’s great that I have that ability to do that if I can remember everybody’s name, which is starting to get to be a problem after hundreds of episodes doing this but I can usually find it pretty quickly.

You’ll remember the show name if it’s a good show name.

Your podcast quality is really critical because people will turn you off if you have poor quality. Click To Tweet

I usually remember the show name. The host name I struggle with. A lot of times I’ll mix a couple of them up because everyone has different names. Your name is Joe and there’s another one Joe. I’ll start to mix their last names up. I don’t think I’ll forget yours because it’s pretty unusual. Joe, I hear that you seem very glad that you started a podcast. I’m sure there are a lot of other people out there thinking about, “I’ve had this idea,” otherwise you wouldn’t be reading here. You’ve been thinking about a podcast. What advice do you have for them?

Don’t take yourself too seriously, just start. Perfection doesn’t exist especially in your first group of episodes but if you don’t start and get on the microphone and start talking, define your topic. Try to think about who your topic is going to resonate with but give it a shot. Record something. Put it out there. Let your friends and family listen at least and give you some feedback so that you can iterate through it. One of the mistakes we made right at the beginning is if you listen to show number 6 and show number 66, it is way different. We were stiff. We were like another higher education show in those first fifteen or so episodes. We said, “What are we doing?”

Let’s take ourselves way less seriously. Let’s have fun with it because if we’re not having fun doing it, it is a commitment. There’s no doubt. There are lots of hours. If you’re doing it yourself like we are, it’s just the three of us and we’re doing all the recording, editing, scheduling, graphics, artwork, all of it. It takes a lot of time. If you’re not having fun doing it then don’t do it. You have to enjoy it. Therefore then don’t take yourself too seriously. Get started. You can get started for free. You can get your Apple headphones, Zoom and go to it.

Joe, thank you for that. I appreciate that. What’s going to EdUp next?

Sometimes I would say we’re not sure. For us, we’re going to be passing our 70,000th download here soon. That’s pretty significant for us.

You should be proud of your show.

Thank you. We never imagined. We thought we could get to 700 or 7,000. That would be massive but it’s 70,000. It took us nine months to get our first 10,000 and eight months to get our next 60,000. It shows you that. We’re starting to discover ways to monetize. What’s next for EdUp is taking advantage of the brand that we’ve built for free, essentially all of our hard work. How do we get paid for it? How do we get paid in a way that’s meaningful where we can still bring value to others? It’s using our connections, using our resources and taking advantage of the speaking opportunities that we have to generate some income.

Maybe, Tracy, we could write that book. We have 200 and something college leaders all talking about what the future of higher education looks like. If there was an idea for a book, that would be it. What happens next is we’re going to keep doing episodes. We’re going to keep getting those college leaders in. We might scale back a little bit and make sure that our episodes are more meaningful. There’s this quality over quantity. How do you send all the episodes at once like a Netflix model? Did you do them one at a time? We’re figuring all that stuff out still. What’s next? Episode 300 here will be on the rising soon.

I’m looking forward to hearing what’s up next for you. We’re going to have to have you come back on as your network gets even more monetized and ends up self-left to do a network-based show. I look forward to having you back.

It would be an honor to be back.

Thank you, Joe.

Wasn’t that fun? What we do with our show is so important. That’s what Joe has found here. He, his team and all of the other people work with the show, his other cohosts, what they’re doing with it to create a community, to support their mission of exposing, giving promotion and publicity to people in the higher education world who just don’t get it. That’s not as exciting as having the President of Harvard on your show as he binges it. These are people who are educating our children and us. To be able to see that, hear that and give them an opportunity to speak about what they’re doing and what they’re putting into thing helps them build trust authority and a little bit of publicity in the process. That is a tremendous thing and something that’s not usually as exciting, higher education.

TBF 102 | Niche Podcast
Niche Podcast: Our audience is the buyer. These are higher ed professionals, administrators with budgets, with money to spend.


What Joe has built in his show is so fascinating because thinking about coming in something that could have been so dry and turning it into something that’s dynamic, interesting and story-based, building all of that has served him well. It has focused the network itself on doing some good practices with all their shows. They’re learning from some of the best in the process there. The EdUp Experience is a fabulous show. You’re going to want to check it out. Maybe it’s not your cup of tea from types of shows. I talk about this all the time. Sometimes these aren’t shows that I would end up subscribing in. I’m not exactly their user base but then there’s this one episode that drops in. It’s perfect for something I needed to hear right at this moment. Maybe it’s something that my niece who’s going off to college struggling with or whatever that might be. You never know.

This is a trick out there, something that a lot of good podcast researchers do. I do it all the time. We not only just search for a show but sometimes we search for a topic. Making sure that our shows tap into those different topics and let people know about them through the way that they’re titled, through the descriptions that they bring is important because you never know when someone might want to learn something. End up realizing that your show is the exact place to get even more than that one thing. Keep that in mind as you go forward. That’s one of the things you’ll find out by checking out the EdUp Experience.

Thank you so much, Dr. Joe Sallustio, for coming to the show. I love what you’re doing there. I can’t wait to see how the EdUp Network turns into and what it grows into. We’ll have to have him back on so we can talk about that network strategy as well. Thanks for reading. I’m going to be back next time with another great show and podcast host for you to learn from so that you can tap into that binge factor.

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Tracy Hazzard

Tracy Hazzard is a former Authority Magazine and Inc. Magazine Columnist on disruptive innovation, and host of 5 top-ranked podcasts including: The Binge Factor and Feed Your Brand–one of CIO’s Top 26 Entrepreneur Podcasts. She is the co-founder of Podetize, the largest podcast post-production company in the U.S. As a content, product, and influence strategist for networks, corporations, marketing agencies, entrepreneurs, publications, speakers, authors & experts, Tracy influences and casts branded content with $2 Billion worth of innovation around the world. Her marketing methods and AI-integrated platform, provides businesses of all sizes a system to spread their authentic voices from video to podcast to blog, growing an engaged audience and growing valuable digital authority.
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