Mark R LePage, from EntreArchitect, explains how podcasting has given him a platform to be a positive force for change in his industry. And how having a ‘pod’ presence has brought big benefits for his business
With the right balance of personality, commitment and good content, podcasting offers those running businesses a great way of connecting with like-minded people – and can deliver significant business benefits.
One man who proves the premise is Mark R LePage, owner of EntreArchitect, an online platform for small firm architects that he runs alongside his own architecture business. Through the combined platform of a blog and podcast, Mark helps his audience of fellow architects build better businesses and better lives.
The platform started out as just a blog in 2007, but by 2009 Mark decided he wanted to do more with it. So he announced to his audience that he was going to relaunch as a blog and podcast – and turn it into something that could truly influence the profession.
Making Strong Connections
So what was it about podcasting that appealed to Mark?
“I’m a podcast fan,” he said. “I don’t watch TV or listen to much radio anymore, so much of my entertainment and knowledge gathering is through online tools and platforms.
“When I launched the new platform for EntreArchitect, I wanted to reach as many small firm architects as I could. And I knew that podcasting was a good way to not only learn and consume content, but also for listeners to make a strong connection with me personally.”
For many business owners, a lack of technical knowhow deters them from entering the podcast arena. But Mark says there are lots of resources out there to help you get started.
Getting The Basics Right
“Before you do anything, one of the hardest things is understanding how it all works, how to upload your podcast and all the other technical things,” he said. “But there are some great tutorials on YouTube – particularly by Pat Flynn of the Smart Passive Income podcast and podcast consultant Cliff Ravenscraft – which taught me everything I needed to do at a basic level to set it up.”
Among the early challenges faced by Mark were learning how to be an engaging presenter and simply finding time to do the podcast regularly. But with determination, perseverance and passion, Mark really began to build his community and assert significant influence.
“The first step was to have the mindset that you’re dedicated to doing it – that it’s influencing other people and benefiting them. You need to commit that you’re going to do the podcast on a regular basis and promise your public that you’re going to do it.
“In terms of hearing your voice and recording it, over time you just get used to doing it and get good at it. I’ve actually grown to like it and I’ve got better at it.”
Becoming an Influential Leader
Mark’s podcasts get around 7,000 downloads a month, and he’s seen some interesting developments as his community has grown.
“The main problem for small firm architects is that they’ve never really trained in running a business,” said Mark. “For decades we’ve suffered with the challenge of running a business without having the knowledge to do so.
“The podcast has helped me get this important message out there on a regular basis and it’s now having a real influence on our profession. I think the AIA (American Institute of Architects) are noticing what I’m doing. They’re recognising that small firms need assistance and they’re responding by proving more business resources.”
As well as giving Mark a platform to inspire and influence, it has also had indirect benefits on his own architecture business.
“My businesses are both very separate,” said Mark. “There’s no overlap other than the fact that my clients see me as a leader in my profession.
“When they search my name, it’s clear what I’m doing. So the leadership part influences clients. But it also benefits my EntreArchitect business as I run an academy as part of it, so the podcast helps me get the message out about the products I have to offer which support the platform.”
More Than Just a Podcast
Mark is proud of his podcast and the impact a niche broadcast can have. But he thinks anyone who’s looking to influence a community needs more than just a podcast to be effective.
“If you really want to influence a community then as well as the podcast, you need a place for that community to come together and comment,” he said. “It could be a blog that you can tie everything back to or a live Facebook page or other social media.”
Social media also plays a big role is helping Mark maintain momentum and ensure the content he puts out there is relevant and engaging.
“I’m very active online and on social media,” said Mark. “I interact with my community every day. I also have a newsletter that goes out once a week which is very popular and I get a lot of response from that. So I’m constantly getting follow ups or responses to the things I’m publishing on social media or my newsletter.
“So there’s a constant generation of ideas just responding to these comments. On social media, people have a question and I answer it, so there’s always a topic for a podcast and new content to share.”
Mark’s Tips For Making a Podcast That Benefits Your Business:
- In addition to your podcast, you need a blog or other platform where you can communicate with your community – whether it’s a blog or an active Facebook group. It’s no good pumping out content to the world, but offering no way to respond.
- Audio quality matters. I don’t have the best equipment, but I do the best I can with what I have. I’ll invest more as I grow. The same goes for presenting. I’m intentionally practising and getting better at being on the microphone. You can have great content but if you don’t present it very well, no one will listen.
- Having a focused niche is important – you can’t talk about everything all the time.
- You need to interact with your community. You need to get out there and communicate with the people you’re trying to influence in order to gain information about whether you’re doing a good job, for content ideas and to promote what you’re doing.
- Build relations with other people who are doing similar things, such as other podcasters that are in a similar niche to you. Don’t see them as competitors, see them as collaborators. By helping each other you’ll both grow and the whole group can be more powerful and influential.
Mark R. LePage, AIA, is Partner in Charge of Operations at the New York-based residential architecture firm, Fivecat Studio. He is also the founder of EntreArchitect.com (Entrepreneur Architect), an online resource inspiring small firm architects to build better businesses. Mark writes a weekly blog, hosts the EntreArchitect Podcast and has recently launched EntreArchitect Academy, a private online community for architects seeking success in business, leadership and life. Learn more at EntreArchitect.com.