Financial advisor Rahad Bilal and educator Troy Millings are childhood friends who have joined forces, earlier this year, and launched Earn Your Leisure, a podcast that makes financial literacy palatable. So far, the duo has amassed several hundred thousand downloads and has earned top 10 status as one of the best business-related podcasts. They consistently rank in the top 50-100 by infusing pop culture, sports, and entertainment with financial literacy, but it’s not just a numbers game. The New York City-based duo wants to educate listeners in financial literacy in ways they can apply what they learn to their own lives.
“It’s geared toward anybody. Any age, any race, it’s information that I think can be relevant to anybody’s life,” says founder Rashad Bilial. “We really try to provide information for any and everybody.”
Each episode features a unique guest with knowledge in various industries from Nollywood to publishing, so listeners always get something unique, relatable, and walk away with valuable information. The core of Earn Your Leisure’s listeners are Millenials and Gen Z’ers based around the world, in places like the US, the UK, Toronto, and parts of Africa.
For this week’s #Blerdtek, we caught up with Earn Your Leisure founder and co-host Rashad Bilal to chat about making finance topics and information more conversational, why his show is so popular, the tools that make his podcasting life easier, and how others can get started in the world of podcasts.
AURN Online: Talk about your career trajectory as a financial advisor and how you got into podcasting.
Rashad Bilal: I was on social media and I was posting a lot of financial literacy topics, because I actually teach. The podcast is moreso a correlation to me teaching as opposed to me being a financial advisor. I teach financial literacy classes, and in the vein of that, I started to post on Instagram about financial literacy education. It was in a way where I would use sports and entertainment a lot to tell stories about financial literacy and explain it in a language that people can understand and that really caught traction. People really like that, and a lot of my followers started asking for a more extended dialogue so I thought the podcast would be a good platform to post more content than just 60-second clips on instagram.
AURN: A lot of times people hear a podcast episode and don’t really think about what’s going on behind the scenes in terms of equipment needed, the post production and marketing. So, what goes on behind the scenes and how did you amass a large following so fast?
RB: It’s really organic, and one of the things that we use to our advantage is that I already had a pretty strong following on Instagram, so, when we launched the podcast I leveraged my personal page to cross-promote. That gave us a tremendous advantage. Other than that, as far as the marketing, all of our marketing is done on social media, specifically Instagram. We try to post regularly and we put clips from the podcast on social media and then we also post other stuff about finance that has nothing to do with the podcast. So we try to make our page an open source information page on everything that’s finance-related and it has really taken off in that regard. People come to our page and there are debates on our page. People ask questions. It’s kind of like the Shade Room of financial literacy.
AURN: One of your commercial breaks is about the Anchor App. Talk to me about that app and why you use it for podcasting.
RB: Anchor is our platform that we use to distribute. It’s a podcast distribution company that’s owned by Spotify, which recently brought them. What they do is publish your podcast. They send it to Apple, they send it to Spotify, they send it to Google; they send it to nine different outlets as opposed to us having to do it individually ourselves. And it’s free too!
AURN: You have a really good rapport with your guests and the conversation sounds very organic. What goes into choosing who you talk to?
RB: That’s like my responsibility and there’s really no science to it. Some guests we know personally, some guests are introduced to us by other people, some guests just randomly DM us, and the guests that we don’t know that just randomly hit us up, I check them out and then I’ll set up a phone call with them and we speak on the phone and I try to gauge it. I try to gauge if it’ll be a good fit for us and we take it from there.
AURN: Going back to the technical component, we talked about Anchor, but what are some other apps or organizational tools or software that you use to make your life easier?
RB: For social media we use an app called Splice that you are use to edit. I use that a lot to edit videos on social media. There’s another app called Vont that I use to put headlines on the videos to get people’s attention. There are few other apps, but a lot of it is just trial and error and we’re still learning a lot. We just got our own camera. Before that we were using iPhones. That’s something I always tell people. People are waiting for things to be perfect but just figure it out as you go. Putting out something is better than nothing, even if it’s not the best quality for how it looks or how it sounds, people don’t really care.
AURN: What is it about your podcast that has gotten so much attention domestically, but also around the world?
RB: We’re really the only ones in the world that’s doing it like what we’re doing as far as mixing financial literacy with the culture, and doing it in a way that people can understand businesses. We’re providing an outlet for entrepreneurs or business people to give information on business in a way that people can understand, and we do it from our perspective and our culture. We’re not limited to just our culture, but of course it’s going to be from our point of view because we’re the messengers of it. So I think that that has resonated all over America and really, all over the world. People hit us up all the time and I wish they had something like this in the UK or in Canada. I think that people all over the world are really excited about it and really take hold to it.
AURN: What three episodes should people who have never heard of the podcast but want to check it out reference first?
RB: Episode 11 is one of everybody’s favorites. It’s a restaurant owner from Baltimore. He has a really inspiring story and he really gave a lot of details. He went into depth about a lot of different things. Episode 26 is with a gentleman named Ash Cash. He gave a lot of information on the book industry, a lot of financial advice, practical everyday financial advice. It was another very inspiring story as well. For the third episode, I would say, episode 12. That’s one of our biggest episodes with a gentleman named Matt Garland. He’s a mortgage broker and he gave a lot of good information for first-time homebuyers—anybody that’s looking to buy a home and looking to invest. He gave a lot of good information on the psychology of investing in real estate and buying real estate. That was a very good episode. Those three episodes are good ones I would say that if you’re going to start with the podcast to check out.
AURN: What do you hope people take away from your podcast and what advice do you have for people who are interested in launching their own?
RB: The biggest takeaway is just information. The podcast is kind of like a college course every week. So, every single week we cover different topics—everything from real estate to hair, to street festival, to the music industry. So,depending on what you’re interested in one episode might resonate more with you than another episode, but ultimately, hopefully, every single week, you’ll gain some form of information that can help you in your day-to-day life, help you as an entrepreneur, as an investor, and as a business person.
As far as people starting their own podcasts, my biggest advice would be to just find your niche. I think that’s important. And be different because a lot of podcasts are pretty much the same where people are just giving opinions on different things and talking [incessantly]. It’s cool, but that space is pretty crowded. So, I would encourage people to find something that is unique that not a lot of people are doing, and also something that you actually like doing that you’re passionate about. Just figure it out. As I said, that’s one of the biggest things with us. Neither one of us have any background in audio/visual or putting together a podcast. We never even really listened to podcasts before. So, we really had no framework, we just did it the way we wanted to do it, and I think that’s one of the reasons why people really like it. They can tell it’s organic. So it’s important to be yourself and dare to be different.