How a Weekly Podcast Turned into a Successful Real Estate Business with Rob Dix

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From popular podcast to a real estate business:

  • 350,000 monthly listeners
  • a high ticket service business
  • a community of over 70,000 people

with over 350,000 monthly listeners, the Property Podcast is the UK’s most popular property podcast, and there’s a good reason behind this.

In this episode of Creators on Air, Rob Dix, Author, Marketer and Co-Founder of Property Hub, joins us to discuss how to start early in your niche, drive success to your business and why you should be building a personal brand.

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Episode Transcript

Akta: [00:00:00] With 350,000 monthly listeners, the Property Podcast is the UK's most popular property podcast, and it's responsible for growing the property hub. On the surface, it looks like this business is about content with podcasts, newsletters, courses, and a community. But there's more to it than that. They have a team of almost 40 people and they offer high value services, which means that they can make all of their content free.

Rob: We can give away everything, which is a massive competitive advantage because people come to trust us 'cause we're telling them everything we know and we're not holding back. I

Akta: spoke to one of their co-founders. Rob Dix about the structure of the business, building a team and why they still offer free content to their audience.

Rob: What we've been doing for about 10 years is, um, funding investments for investors, and then we do that in two diff different ways. So one is if someone wants to buy, buy to let property we, but they want to be hands off. So lots of our clients are people who are, who are. Like high earners, but super busy.

[00:01:00] Or their sports people or people who just, who want to build something for the future but don't have a lot of time to go out and do all the, the viewings themselves and all the nuts and bolts of property. We will go out, um, we'll take on property in bulk, negotiate a discount on it, and sort of pass that onto them and hold the hand through the whole process.

And then for people where even that's too much hassle. Um, we've also got a fund and so we buy some so people can just buy shares in the fund. So it's, there's quite a, I'd say sophisticated and high touch business behind it in that it is like, real estate is difficult. There's always lots going on. The hard, everything to do with transacting on it is a pain.

There's lots of compliance, lots of financial. So there's a team of 40 working pretty hard to do all the stuff behind the scenes. That's

Akta: amazing and I think it's incredible that this all began with a podcast. Yeah. So how did it scale into what it is today? We

Rob: were in a very fortunate position, I think when, because we started podcasting [00:02:00] early, so like we, we've been doing this for 10 years and that's before podcasting was really big in the uk.

So if you were interested in property mm-hmm. Uh, in the UK you had us or nothing, which is great because we were able to grow quite quickly. And so this all came out of a business that my co-host Rob had at the time. It's a very small business doing exactly what we do now, but a much smaller scale. Um, and he was having to hit the phones code, like sort of run Google ads, get it, have like really difficult conversations if we don't persuade them to buy.

And then within a few months of starting the podcast he was selling. Far, far, far more, um, without having to do any sales really. 'cause people were bought into him and what we were doing because of the podcast. And so very, very quickly we started to see the power of that. And as time went on and the audience grew, that just got more and more.

So we are very quickly able to scale it up to the point that it is now. [00:03:00] So did

Akta: you go in with a direction of what this business would be? So it kind of business came before the podcast, or did you kind of start the podcast and then decided actually this would be a great business to build? Like how did, how did that plan work?

Rob: We were at different points with it. So, um, the other Rob, my co-host, whereas, um, far more. I think had far more vision than I did about what it could turn into. I, at the time was just like, wasn't really doing anything else, and he asked me to co-host with him, like, yeah, that'll be fun. It was just, just like gonna talk about property.

That sounds great. Um, I think he had more of a vision of what it could turn into, um, but. We very much follow the audience as we've gone along. So like when, when you start getting feedback, people tell you what they want, um, and what's missing, and you start to get a sense of the problems you can solve for people.

Yeah. So there's definitely been an element of taking his original very small business and growing it. Um, but there's also been things we've done along the way that where we've, we've found opportunities through the audience that we've built.

Akta: How are you getting that feedback from the [00:04:00] audience through?

'cause whenever I think of a podcast, I kind of just think, okay, you have your listeners, there's no kind of room for interaction. Almost like there's no comments that you get on YouTube or you know, likes on Instagram. So how are you getting that kind of feedback to drive the business? I.

Rob: It's very, um, a lot of it comes from having conversations with people who get in touch, um, wanting to know about the services.

So then you sort of have sales conversations with them and, or just, just things like we, we ended up starting a property management company because, We were sort of selling the property and going, there you go. And I was like, oh, great. Well now what do I do with that? I don't look after it myself. So that was, so that was a really obvious one.

Yeah. But then just also get feedback from, uh, kind of really non-scientific way, just, um, email replies and like comments on social and stuff like that. So we like picking up on little signals like that.

Akta: Yeah. So how do you, with your podcast episodes, how do you kind of promote, I wanna say your services, um, but still having the focus on the actual [00:05:00] content and the value that you're providing.

Yeah. How do you find that balance?

Rob: Um, it's a really good question, and I think for a long time we were really conscious about not wanting to look salesy. Yeah. Um, so we were really. Under selling and like we did a poll of our audience and like 60% of them, like five years into this, had no idea that we had any services at all.

Oh, no way. Right. Okay. We're probably veering slightly too much this way. Um, and so, but we just, um, We've recently, like within the last six months, started running like actual ad slots for our services within the podcast. And so like, we'll, you'll kind of come, come out of the conversation and drop in what would normally be an advert for Squarespace or whatever, how people are promoting.

Um, but it'll, it'll be for us. But, uh, but up until that point, We really just relied on, uh, making, passing references. So, you know, so, so we're talking about something, it's like, well, of course we've seen this because we've been really active in the market putting this deal together. Our clients know about [00:06:00] that.

So just like dropping little mentions. And then, because podcasts, people tend to listen every week, and you're spending a long time with them. By the time you've mentioned something a few times they'll pick up on it and go, ah, well what is that? Yeah. So if there's been. Now we've actually got a process.

But before that you could, we could easily like go a month without mentioning that we did anything. But because we don't need a huge volume of clients for this business to work, that was fine.

Akta: And what I find really interesting is that even though you have this business that is thriving, you both still provide a lot of free content and courses outside of the podcast, and you have a forum of over 70,000 people as well.

What, what is the reason for. Wanting to provide so much free value

Rob: is a way of differentiating ourselves from everyone else in the industry. And, and it's fun, importantly, but like what we've, because what we provide is a service, so we are, we're basically selling [00:07:00] implementation. Yeah. We are not selling information, so that's unusual.

So most people in our industry are selling courses, masterminds, whatever, um, which means that they have to hold something back because they're selling some of the information. We're not doing that, so we can give away everything, which makes it much easier. So we've basically moved the free line a really, really, really long way, um, which is a massive competitive advantage.

People come to trust us. 'cause we're, we're telling them everything we know and we're not holding back. And it's, and for us, because distribution is free, like if 98% of people never give us any money, which I think is probably the case. That's fine. It doesn't cost us anything.

Akta: Yeah. But I find it, what I find interesting is like a lot of creators talk about diversifying your income and having lots of different revenue streams.

So what made you guys decide that, you know, investing is, is the right direction for us to monetize and that's what we [00:08:00] wanna focus on, rather than trying to then, you know, have paid courses and. All these other things that you guys probably could actually do.

Rob: Mm-hmm. It's just a capacity thing, I think.

Really? Oh, wow. Like there's only so much you can do. And by and by having, by making this distinction where we go, like information is free, implementation is not, it just means that that decision is made. It's really easy. And you don't just, and the, because property is a very high value business. Like if we'd need to sell a lot, Of course is to, to, to make up the revenue from selling one property.

Yeah. So it's just like, you need to, you need to make that into a hu into a whole big operation. And so it's like, it kind of makes more sense to just focus on the one thing.

Akta: Yeah. But you also have a team of, did you say 40 people? Which more or less, yeah. Which is a lot. So, um, like how is that team structured and how did you.

Get to that stage where you've had so many people working for the business. There's

Rob: just a lot of [00:09:00] moving parts. So on the actual, on the actual contract content production side, it is really lean. So we've got a podcast producer, we've got a editor for our videos. Um, and I. That's it. I think I don't there.

And then we've got, we've got a, a smallish marketing team who does various bits and pieces, but most of it's on the actual property side. So like getting transactions through to, from the point of saying, yes, I want it to actually legally completing on it is a giant pain. And so we've got a whole team of people who just deals with that.

We've got a team of people who actually go out and. Find the deals in the first place and we say no to the vast majority of things that we get shown. And so that's a whole intensive process in filtering through all that, going out and visiting the sites and all the rest of it. Um, yeah. Then you've got, um, just all the, sort of the stuff a business has and that we, you've got.

It and HR and, and all that kind of thing. And it all adds up and it doesn't sound like it, but it is actually running [00:10:00] pretty lean just because if, oh, I forgot to mention finance, it's a big finance function as well. So there's, there's just a lot going on, um, that you wouldn't necessarily. Realize, you know it, it looks like it's just a podcast, but below the surface it's quite a

Akta: lot going on.

It sounds like it, but when you guys, so originally it was just you and Rob, and then from there, where did you start? Like how did you know who exactly you needed and you know, were you gonna focus on the hiring for the business aspect of the content aspect first?

Rob: I think we just got there through trial and error and a lot of error.

Like when we started, we didn't really know how to do any of it. Like, we've made a lot, we've made a lot more bad hires than good hires. We've just, we've just treated the good ones really well, and, and, and hung onto them. So like the, I think the person's we've been with this longest is, Been with us for like eight years out.

Oh. Out of the 10 years that we've been going, there's multiple people on like six. And it's, uh, so it is like, but we've like, it's been a lot of [00:11:00] just kind of finding our way in terms of who we need, like what roles we need. Lot. It's been a bit chaotic. Most of the time, to be honest, I think it's only really the last couple of years that it started to feel like, right, we've got a structure now.

Whereas before that it was just like constantly trying to figure it out as we went along. And just we've, we've been through lots of different models as well. Like we start, started with like people remotely part, like people working part-time, just like basically like. We've hit our capacity, so we need to bring someone in to do something else.

Let's pull someone in part-time. Then we went into to a model of having people full-time in the office. Then the world moved away from that and so we ended up going to hybrid again. So we've been, it's not been a particularly well executed, well full out process. We've got to a good place, but it's through a lot of mess.

Akta: Yeah. And you mentioned that you find, you know, the content side. The fun part of doing everything, it, how does your team help you strike that balance between, you know, focusing on [00:12:00] the content and what value you're providing for free versus, you know, building and scaling this business?

Rob: We've recently divided up responsibilities a bit, so my co-founder now is the, officially the c e o of the business and he spends most of his time running.

Business, like work, working with the team to do that. And I spend most of my time on the, the content part. Okay. And 'cause that's what I find find the most fun and that really that that's working really well. Before that, we were both kind of getting pulled into bits of everything. And I think for me is like the business side of things is.

Not something that I'm particularly good at and not something I enjoyed that much. I tried to get good at it and tried to enjoy it. Yeah. But it kind of came back to, well, I kinda like writing a podcast is kind of what I like doing. Yeah. And I think for Rob it was hard to, the, the context switching is difficult.

It's, it's hard to go from like firefighting, some kind of issue with a development that's not going well, to [00:13:00] having to record a YouTube video to interviewing someone for a role. It's just too all over the place. Yeah. So having that separation kind of makes sense. No, that's

Akta: amazing. And um, like you mentioned, when you guys started like 10 years ago, there weren't that many podcasts.

It wasn't really as big of a thing. Now there's suddenly a lot more competition. Do you guys feel like you still have to differentiate yourself and, and grow the podcast? And if so, like how are you doing that now?

Rob: I really think that we were so lucky to start when we did because growing a podcast now is so hard because there's no discovery.

Spiked into it. Yeah, so I think we were just very lucky that we started when we did. And so we'd hit some kind of critical mass, I suppose, in terms of like being high in Apple podcasts rankings, having lots of reviews for social proof that now, and I think we've now been established for long enough that we're kind of.

The default choice. Like if you get into [00:14:00] property and you are a PO a listener of podcasts, you're probably gonna find us. So we don't, we haven't really invested in growing the podcast as such. It's just grow. I'm still astonished that it keeps growing, but it does keep growing year on year. Wow.

Organically with little spikes. So like when something happens in the economy and everyone starts freaking out, that's great for our numbers. Um, but it just, it is just kind of grown organically. I think that's very hard to pull off now. And I think a mistake that we've made. Has been taking, kind of just leaving the podcast to do its thing.

'cause we're busy building the business. I think we should have invested in discovery channels sooner. So things like, um, u I'd count YouTube as a discovery channel 'cause it's got the algorithm, um, yeah, Twitter, Instagram, all that sort of thing. And, and having people go, well, going from there. To the podcast or to our newsletter.

'cause we've, we've had like our, our newsletter's really strong. Our [00:15:00] podcasts are really strong, but there's no built in discovery for those. Right. So I, I think you, I think we have over-emphasized that and probably should have started sooner building these other channels and driving people to those assets.

So is that's

Akta: something you're doing now?

Rob: That's something we're starting to do more now. So we've, we've started investing in YouTube over the last year, which has been a lot of fun and a big, big learning curve.

Akta: And how, how are you relating all the content together? So, you know, like you've got the newsletter, you've got your discovery channels.

Is it all derived from the same content as a podcast or are you creating like different content for each channel?

Rob: Um, we're being really inefficient and just doing different content for each channel. Um, but we're starting to do a bit better job of repurposing. So if we've got a, got a podcast about something, we might then take, take that and turn it into a newsletter topic, but do it in two months time so it doesn't feel like you're just getting hammered with the same topic all the time.

Same for same, same for YouTube videos. So not [00:16:00] everything works across every different channel, but I've started kind of like ask for everything that we do. Ask the question. Could we repurpose this for another channel? Yeah. But everything's totally bespoke, so we're not just taking the podcast and sticking it on YouTube.

We are producing YouTube videos, which is Oh. Very time consuming.

Akta: Yeah, it is. I'm surprised actually that you're not just like filming and video and then uploading. That's a big commitment.

Rob: Yeah, it is. And I think I've been, I've been going through the process of learn, trying to learn YouTube, right. Do, do everything myself to really get deep into it and understand how it works.

Yeah. And now I'm at the point it's like, okay, I sort of get it now, so now I can start passing off. Bits of it to other people and like getting, getting script writers involved and things like that and, and taking some of the load out of it. But I think I find that you have to deeply understand a channel yourself first before you can start [00:17:00] trying to outsource bits of

Akta: it.

No, I think that's really good, and I'm glad that you mentioned a bit earlier that. Like market shares really affect how many listeners you have on your podcast or eyes that you have on your content. Um, so I have a YouTube friend who is also into property and some of his videos have gone completely viral based on what's going on in the uk.

So like if there's housing crisis and you know, his videos will just shoot up. So I'm guessing that's really good, obviously for your content, but then has a. Downward effect on your business. So how do you kind of manage the actual market trends and cope with any fluctuations

Rob: like that? That's a good question.

And everything. Yeah. Anything to do with like if you put the words property crash in a YouTube title, especially with like a downward line and some flames or something, it'll just like it. It will, it will do well. But then you have to have to really like, Um, have some dis discipline to not do that every time.

So you just end up hating yourself and just like, it would just just be not good. So try and balance it [00:18:00] out. Um, but, but stuff like, stuff like that, drama is good for, good for audience. You could say It's not good for business. But in reality we traded through a lot of different difficult patches that we say.

So like we, we traded through Brexit, which was just like a, probably like a year or two of everyone going, oh, I've no idea what's gonna happen next, so maybe I'm not gonna make any big commitments. Uh, but through Covid, which is another one of those went through, um, there was a whole load of stuff, um, last October in terms of mortgage rates and the national debt and all that kind of thing.

We've been through so much of it now. It's like the, the type of client that we deal with is investing for the long term and they're not overly stressed out by what's happening month to month. Right. So it's, it's a and that's a message that we try to reinforce in the, in the content. And there's always a bit of a tension there.

'cause we spend a lot of time sort of talking about here's what's happening [00:19:00] right now. Because everyone wants to know what's happening right now, but then coming back to, but it doesn't really matter. Because if property prices go down 1% in the next three months, what the hell does it matter in 20 years time?

So we are always coming back to that message and our clients are sort of, are all of that mindset, which is another helpful thing about content, right? You can share you, you can kind of share your worldview. And people who agree with that worldview can opt into it and become customers or whatever else.

And people who don't like it just kind of bounce away. Yeah,

Akta: definitely. So do you think it, it's important for most businesses to almost like build this trust then with their customer using content? Like do you think that's the way to go? I

Rob: think it's a huge competitive advantage. Um, I don't, I dunno if it's necessarily easy, like I think if you are.

I, I dunno how you'd describe it, but like, if you are a, if you are a content person, well, whatever the medium is, then I think it's quite [00:20:00] you, you can kind of naturally, you naturally get it, you naturally want to do it. Um, and all the, it makes, even if you do outsource parts of it, you can hire better and manage it better because you understand what it's all about.

I think if you just, if you were just a. Business owner who had no interest in this stuff and didn't really get it, and you just like listen to this and go, oh, okay, well the message here is I should start doing content for my business. I think that would be quite hard to pull off. Mm-hmm. Because you are not gonna have that base to build on.

And even if you tried to just like bring in a team to do it all. Yeah, I think that'd be quite tough as well.

Akta: Yeah. And now you are trying to build your own personal brand as well, outside of real estate. What was the reason for, you know, what, what's your intention behind that? Mm-hmm. Why do you think that's important?


Rob: it's partially because it's. It is more, it reflects my interests more fully. Like I've been been talking about property for 10 years and I'm, I'm interested in property, but it's not the only thing. Yeah. And [00:21:00] I, I like to, I like talking about other stuff as well. Um, and also I've got this publishing deal.

So I've got, I've had, I've got a book out that's broader and I've got another book coming out next year that's broader again. So it's like, it's building up another audience for, for those. So I've got like the, the property audience we can take across. That's great. I'd like to build another audience as well that's maybe about investing more generally than got two audiences to go and buy the book.

Akta: Yeah. Amazing. So do you think it's important to have a personal brand as like, well, as a business brand, do you think they can always compliment each other or will they all, do you think they have room to be separate?

Rob: I think that a personal brand is much more powerful than a business brand. And it's, it is just, it's so obvious that people relate to people, but like if you think about Yeah, true.

If you, but if you think about the people who you follow on social media, like how many companies do [00:22:00] you feel like a connection with? Probably, yeah. None. None, no. Um, but there'll be people who you feel a connection with who have a business. They're, but the way that they're showing up, they're showing up as a person and then they've got the, the business behind it.

So although, like we've got the Property Hub brand, everyone talks about Rob and Rob. Yeah. Like everyone kind of talk. We, we are the, the face of it and people, people are keen to interact with us, not so keen to interact with the brand. Right. So I think, I think there's, you could say that there's a. There's a tension or there's a duplication or something to having both, I think.

But I think if you're choosing where to invest you, I'd always invest in the personal brand because mm-hmm. I just think it's easier.

Akta: Yeah. No, I think that makes sense and I think it helps to build that sense of trust, like you said, because you know, we know who Rob is, or both Robs, we know who they are and it's easy to trust a person versus just like a [00:23:00] logo.

So that makes a lot of sense. Um, I'm gonna end now with a quick fire round. So I'm gonna ask you five questions that I ask every creator that comes on air, starting with what's your favorite thing about being a creator? Sharing,

Rob: sharing ideas. I just, I just love kind of having, so having concept come to me and go, oh, that's really cool.

And then managing to transmit that to someone else. Mm.

Akta: And where do you get most of the inspiration for those ideas? I

Rob: think it just comes from, I think the best ones come from conversation. So it, it is like, I'll be trying to, I can be like bashing my head against the wall trying to think of like topics for something or other, but then I'll go and like, talk to a friend who's vaguely interested in this sort of thing.

Yeah. Try explain something to him. I go, oh, actually, yeah, that's, that, that's the point. So that's, that's probably where the best stuff comes

Akta: from. Nice. And what's a tool that helps you as a creator?

Rob: Hmm. This is like, So, um, cliche, but I've recently joined Club Notion, so like, so, so, [00:24:00] um, and yeah, it, it is actually really helpful because I'm, I'm using that to maintain like links between ideas, archives of our content and all that sort of thing.

I'm spending so much time. Be before going. I'm sure I've written about this somewhere, but I dunno where. So that's been really useful.

Akta: Yeah. I feel like I need to start a tip jar for everyone who says notion because it's such a common answer. Um, what's something that helps with your creator work-life balance?

Rob: Um, having kids actually really helps. Okay. Yeah, because it forces me to stop and, um, it means that I'm sort of getting as much done as I did before. Um, yeah. But like, yeah, not, not wasting as much time as I was, so, yeah. Yeah. I have to finish at five o'clock or whatever. That's actually really useful.

Akta: No, that's good.

And what's. One piece of advice that you'd give to other creators?

Rob: Competition makes everything harder. Like, much harder. Um, this is like, so I've, there's a book by Sam Zell, who's like a famous billionaire, died recently, and he, this is a big point that he made, that really connected [00:25:00] with me, which is that like, if you are competition means you are always getting stuck in a, like a race to the bottom on prices or you are bidding up the price of things.

If you're going to buy investments, you want to, if you are the only one, Then well that, that's the com everything becomes easier so that you, there might be a smaller market for that thing where you are the only one. Yeah. But you are gonna be able to dominate that market. So the way that relates to creators, I think is just like, if you are the.

I don't know, like, no notion's a big deal. So I'm gonna create videos about notion. Well, Thomas Frank's doing that best in you and the, and lots of other people are doing it as well. True. And it's gonna be hard to show up. So like if you, you guys either picking, picking a topic that is underserved or picking, going notion for dentists, um, the notion or, or I'm gonna do it in a completely different way, so, [00:26:00] Miss Excel, amazing example, like teaching you about, about spreadsheets while dancing or whatever.

Just like taking the, taking the same thing, but do a different mentality. That has to be something unique that makes you one of one. Yeah. I just think that it, it seems like it's harder, but actually it makes everything way, way easier.

Akta: Wow. That's really good advice. I like, I mean, I've heard it in different ways, but I think the way that you've worded it, it.

Actually makes a lot of sense. Like a light bulb moment there. So thank you so much, Rob. This was really interesting. It's so great to hear about, you know, what Property Hub does and how you've built it and how you've managed kind of the creator side of things versus the business side. So really appreciate it.

Rob: Thank you for having me. It's been really fun.

Akta: If you are a creator and you offer sponsorships, check out Passion Fruit. We help you to streamline the entire process. I'll see you in the next one.