“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
– Peter Drucker
Eric Cacciatore is the man behind the top-rated podcast Restaurant Unstoppable. A place where he converses with icons in the industry and encourages them to share pearls of wisdom with an audience of restaurateurs.
How’d he do it you ask?
It couldn’t have been from flying to a conference, sleeping on a hammock in the mountains, renting a bicycle, and enticing well-known restaurateurs, to the likes of Ari Weinzweig, to becomes guests on his show, right?
And he definitely wouldn’t have continued to push out amazing content week after week as a student of the industry for years without making a single penny, right?
That’s exactly what he did and more!
With sheer dedication, passion, and persistence, Eric worked tirelessly to build a respected resource for the industry.
Eric’s full interview is featured in the latest issue of Entrepreneurial Chef Magazine, where he unravels the incredible story of his journey building the Restaurant Unstoppable Podcast, but for now, here are some keys to podcasting success from our time with Eric.
Carve Out Your Niche
Unless you have very deep pockets, a large team, or both, you can’t try to cast too wide of a net. Well, technically you can, but your timeline for getting traction may be decades down the road.
Instead, you want to find a niche to serve. For Eric, he wanted a podcast that would help him progress in the restaurant industry. So with limited podcast options at the time, he set out to serve that niche.
As Eric says:
“Initially, I created this podcast because I wanted to learn. I was looking for a great podcast in the industry, and it didn’t exist. I started thinking to myself, “I wish there were a podcast that was entrepreneurial in nature but focused towards the restaurant profession, something focused towards people who want to grow their professional lives in hospitality.” It blew my mind there wasn’t anything that existed, so I just got started.
Find a Role Model
If you’ve ever played sports, you likely had a professional role model you idolized. The value they brought was a lot of inspiration and pinch of instruction combined.
There is real value in finding a successful person and model after their actions. Essentially, you can use them as a jumping off point and begin farther along than most.
As Eric says:
“I just started learning and just consuming content, WordPress 101, things of that nature, and I joined communities like Podcasters’ Paradise. I surrounded myself with people who knew what they were doing and started being an autodidact and pushing myself.
John Lee Dumas, Entrepreneur on Fire, has a bunch of free resources too, to learn how to podcast. He’s got a book out there, “Podcast Launch: How to Create, Grow & Monetize YOUR Podcast: 15 Video Tutorials Included” That’s a great resource to learn how to podcast.”
Be Very Transparent
These days, people can sniff out a fake fairly quickly. With the digital landscape growing exponentially, there’s plenty of resources to validate what someone is selling, or who they’re claiming to be for that matter.
It’s important to be upfront and honest with your audience. If you’re not an expert in an area, don’t falsify your experience. Being transparent will help you build a tribe faster and with staying power.
As Eric says:
“One of the biggest lessons I learned through other podcasts about building a platform is just how powerful transparency can be with the audience. So I took a leap and just started. I said, “This is who I am, I’m a student, and I’m starting this podcast because I want to learn.” And I knew other people wanted to learn in the same ways.
I realized how important running things transparently can be. Especially for those trying to sell an idea or a product, it’s so huge when trying to develop rapport and trust, which is a big part of today’s world.”
Start Where You Are
Unfortunately, too many people have an image of where they should begin, so they wait endlessly for the circumstances to line up perfectly.
I’m not trying to be harsh, but I’ll save you the suspense…circumstances will never be perfect!
The best you can do for yourself and future is to start where you are. If you can only afford $50 worth of equipment, then get it and launch. Do what you can, with what you have, and grow from there.
As Eric says:
“I learned the biggest challenge is just starting. You have to just start. Then, you’ll get over that hurdle, and you attack the next hurdle. I started with what I could do, which was basically a $50-dollar microphone and Garage Band. My only expenses were the media host, the website, and the microphone.
You can start really cheap. The audio quality’s not going to be great, but like I said, the biggest challenge is just to start. It doesn’t have to be great in the beginning because let’s be honest, no one’s going to be listening to you in the beginning.”
Make Adjustments on the Fly
There’s something called “pivoting” and it’s an important part of being an entrepreneur. It’s essentially the moment when your original intention changes slightly and you sail in a new direction.
The best advice is to put together a plan, a strategy in a sense, and start. Once you get a few days and weeks into the process, evaluate where you are and see if you need to make any adjustments. And then make them and continue on!
As Eric says…
“Initially, I thought I was going to be focusing on entrepreneurship, social media, and business marketing. I thought that was going to be my focus. The more I started talking to people, the more I started learning about what creates success in the restaurant industry. I started to learn that behind every successful restaurant is an incredible person, and that restaurant is an extension of that person’s personal brand.
I pivoted from being a focus on the mechanical things of a restaurant to more of personal growth and leadership efficiencies, because as you go, you learn, you evolve, and you have to pivot to get to your destination.”
Unless the podcast is a solo venture, you’re going to need guests. And not just any guests, but people who will attract listeners.
So how do you get people when you’re just starting out?
It starts with putting together the mission of your show. Ask yourself, who will you serve, how will you serve them, and what information will you provide? Having a great handle on your show allows clear and concise communicate when you’re requesting guest.
And then…make the focus about your guests and audience. It’s the guests’ chance to share their expertise on a topic, to talk about themselves, and to provide great value. When you’re searching for guest, this is the mindset you should have in order to attract them.
As Eric says:
“When you start, it’s much harder to get people on your show. I used my transparency in the beginning, and I think that’s what made me successful versus some of the other people who got started and stopped, which there were many.
When I would email people, my opening line was: “Hi, I’m writing you as a student of the industry, I want to make an example of you, I want to find out what has made you successful, what you do, and I want to share your stories, advice, and recommendations with other aspiring hospitality professionals like myself.” I didn’t make it about me.”
Find Your “Ari”
Eric was able to connect with Ari Weinzweig, a very successful entrepreneur in the industry. After connecting with Ari, it became leverage to get more guests.
Whatever your niche, you want to find several big name influencers and find a way to connect with them. Use email, LinkedIn, find their PR folks, tag them on social media to get their attention, or like Eric, fly to a conference and introduce yourself to them!
As Eric says:
“As soon as I got Ari Weinzweig on the show, I would drop his name in the initial email. I was like, “I’ve had guests like Ari Weinzweig,” and I would always include the people I’ve had on the show that might be known because people want to associate their personal brand with the brands of other successful people.
That’s what I started to do. As soon as I’d get a good person on the show, I would name drop, and I think that really helped. Now I have people like Cameron Mitchell, Ari Weinzweig, Tandy Wilson, John Kunkel, these are people that are successful. Now, it’s much easier. I might send 2-4 emails a week, and my conversion rate is much higher.”
You can spend as little as $50 or as high as $5,000. It’s a matter of how much you have and what will get the job done. As we said in point number 4, it’s important to start where you are, especially from a financial standpoint.
So what does Eric use?
“As far as platform, I host with Libsyn, and my website is built with WordPress. To learn everything, to gather the knowledge, I got a membership to Podcasters’ Paradise, which was very helpful.
My microphone is a Heil, PR40. I use a Mac. My editing software is Adobe Audition. I have a Presonus Firestudio mixer, which allows me to record on two tracks, which is really important.”
To hear the full story of Eric’s journey and advice, grab a copy of the October Issue of Entrepreneurial Chef Magazine. Also, visit Restaurant Unstoppable and hear some of the great episodes with incredible guests hosted by Eric.