PPM 26 | Real Estate


Marco Santarelli, host of the incredibly popular podcast called Passive Real Estate Investing, talks about real estate and his mission to help educate investors about the industry. He shares how he keeps his podcast going for a long time despite his busy schedule, giving some reassuring insights to those who are aspiring to start their own as well. Talking about his success, Marco shows how you can organically grow your podcast without pitching services; all you need is good, consistent, and valuable content.

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Growing A Steady And Successful Real Estate Podcast with Marco Santarelli

Marco Santarelli is in the real estate industry and has an incredibly popular podcast called Passive Real Estate Investing. It does tremendously well and highly ranks on iTunes. He’s been doing it for a few years. It’s a popular show. Without further ado, here’s Marco. Hello, Marco.

How are you, Tom?

I’m great. Thank you so much for joining me. I wanted to have you on because we’ve had all different kinds of podcasters on our special event for International Podcast Day. You’re a great model podcaster in many ways because after a few years you’ve got a show that is still popular. You’re doing in general one episode a week and you have such a popular show that it’s in the top ranks of iTunes. I’d love for you to share with the audience your purpose in your podcast for you as a business person. How you see it serves you best because you’ve stuck with it.

The key is consistency because I read a stat when I first started doing my podcast that most podcasters stop after seven episodes. I didn’t want that to be me. If I had to quit, I’d make it to eight. I stuck to it and I tried to do a weekly episode. For the most part, I do but every once in a while, I skip one because I’m traveling. I started it a few years ago and the purpose of it at the time was to put out good content to educate our clients, which are real estate investors. We operate on a nationwide basis. We don’t meet face-to-face. All of our clients are talking to us on the phone and they talk to us via email. I noticed that a lot of the questions we got were frequently asked.

I thought, “Let’s start covering all the foundational stuff on the first five or ten episodes like the difference between passive investing and active real estate investing, what is a turnkey investment and all that stuff.” That was the purpose of it. I toyed with the idea of should I do YouTube or should I do a podcast? For a long time, I’ve struggled with this. I talked to a lot of people about it and I decided to podcast because I didn’t have a lot of time back then either. I figured if I do YouTube, it’s going to be more work than podcasting because I’m now dealing with video and audio. I think I made the right decision, but in hindsight, I wish I started podcasting several years ago. It’s not too late now.

You are number two out of the top 200 in the business investing category on iTunes. Yours is the number two show right behind Barbara Corcoran. You are behind a nationally known television personality who has a podcast in that category. You are way ahead of big and well-known organizations. Tim Ferriss’ show is number nine and your number two.

Tim Ferriss is usually up there, Gary Vaynerchuk, Dave Ramsey.

Dave Ramsey is right behind you at number three. This is impressive and that’s part of why I’m pleased you could find a little time to spend with us now. It’s important for people to understand that you don’t have to be a big celebrity or have a podcast that’s produced by one of the big media outlets in this crowded category to be top ranked. It’s about providing great content which you’re doing. What you might think of like the 101 series or the frequently asked questions. That was the lead into it. You’ve gone far beyond that in your show after a few years. Great content is drawing in a big audience in a high area of interest for investors and individuals across the country.

Content is critically important. There was a time when I was always asking for ratings and reviews. I haven’t done that for a long time, but that helps play into driving the popularity of the show. At last count, at least on the US records like the US iTunes list because every country has its own rate ratings and reviews, we’re close to 800 five-star reviews.

I look at this stuff periodically. You have 757 on US iTunes ratings and reviews. 712 of them are five-star, 22 are four-star and there’s a small and insignificant handful that are less than that. You can ask for ratings all day long, but you’re not going to get ratings like that in those numbers if you don’t have a show that people like and find a value.

I’m still to this day not comfortable doing a podcast. I’d be a lot worse doing video. I have a face for podcasting.

I wouldn’t say that, but that’s important for people to understand. You’re not comfortable doing it. That’s a real honest moment and it would help new podcasters to understand you don’t have to be comfortable.

It helps, but you don’t. You can do it without being comfortable. After a few years, I’m still not comfortable because I overthink the questions I need to ask when I have a guest. I overthink what I’m saying and that causes me to stutter sometimes. I strive too hard to make the show perfect right from the get-go, meaning every recording, every episode has to be perfect. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, but most people need to understand that it doesn’t need to be perfect. It’s probably better if it isn’t perfect because a lot of people like podcasts because of the humility, honesty and the authenticity of it. I’m glad I’m not perfect with it.

There are advantages for investing in real estate that are not in investing in other things where you might put your money to make more. Click To Tweet

The authenticity, something is resonating. You’re not comfortable with it or nervous about it, but you have an excellent voice for podcasting. Your voice seemed ideal for another podcaster who started a podcast. I asked you to do a voiceover for their intro. It worked well. It’s rare that I do that to you because that’s not your gig and you don’t have time probably to do that very much. It was what they were asking for. I thought, “Marco’s voice is ideal for what they’re talking about.”

Yours is great too. I don’t know what it is. It’s probably not my voice. It’s the microphone.

You got a good mic and that’s great, but your voice is good. I know people are comforted by it and you speak with authority on your subject. You know your business. Something is working for you out there. It’s important for people to know that your show is what you set out to do was such a farfetched idea. You saw a need in the market. You’ve got all these questions and you’re trying to help serve that community in a way that was more efficient for you, where you didn’t have to take all those phone calls necessarily or you have resource people start asking you questions, “You might want to go listen to the podcast.” It may have been how it started. There’s a big community across this country that is benefiting tremendously from the wisdom you’re sharing and the guests that you’re bringing on and connecting them to. It’s working. Number two on iTunes. No paid marketing. You don’t pay anybody to boost the show or to market it or put it out there directly in terms of the podcast.

I do have sponsors though. I started taking sponsors on a couple of months ago.

You’ve always put in your promotions and ads for some of your own company and service or however you want to describe it. Some companies are pitching services that if you pay them a sum of money, they guarantee they’ll get you at the top of the charts on iTunes. I wanted to be transparent for the audience to understand that’s never something you’ve done. You’ve gotten there organically through your content that you’re producing.

I don’t think those services work. I’ve never tried a service like that. I’ve never seen a service like that.

I have another client, Scott Carson, who’s in a related field. He’s in distressed real estate note investing. Scott has become a good friend and you know what business he’s in. In a different facet of real estate investing in properties that are distressed notes or you might call bad debt or mortgages that are in trouble. He does a good job with that. He forwarded me an email from this company and they had reached out to me and solicited me for this service. I took a phone call because I wanted to do a little research on it. I wanted to know about it.

They are pitching an expensive program from a couple of thousand dollars a month all the way up to $10,000 or even $15,000 a month depending on where you want to get into the rankings in your category. They’ll say the lower levels guarantee you in the top 100. The next level is in the top 50 and it goes top 25, top ten, whatever. I’ve never talked to anybody who used them, but they claim and they’re in business selling this service that if you want to get to the top of iTunes charts, they can get you there. It’s a paid marketing program. It has a lot to do with PR among other things.

Does it work?

I don’t know. I’ve never talked to anybody who’s used it. They’re in business. Presumably, somebody’s paying them to try to do this. I never got any case studies out of them. There are several people that we know firsthand who are at the top of their ranks in their category on iTunes and none of them is using any paid program. It’s organic, the content they’re creating, not only for their podcast. The blog posts are helping to generate awareness and organic traffic for people to learn about your show. Ultimately, if you produce good quality show and good quality content, you don’t need to do that. That’s what I’ve seen. You’re a great example of that. I’m thrilled that you could be here and provide some of your testimony that what I’ve been saying to people is true in that regard.

I’m glad to be on here talking to you about it.

PPM 26 | Real Estate

Real Estate: Authenticity in podcasting goes a long way.


You’re feeling good about the podcast. You’re planning to stick with it. It’s serving your business. Sometimes you struggle to record things with your entire travel schedule, but it’s working for you. Are you planning to continue with it?

It is more work than I thought it was going to be. I often say that I created another job for myself. Essentially, I have because it is a lot of work. I do spend a lot of time on it in prep and with the interview and sometimes even post-production, but it’s worth the time. It has become maybe not our primary marketing tool but a strong marketing tool at this point. It does generate leads in business and I don’t pitch it as an infomercial. It’s not there to generate business but because people like the show and they learn a lot from it. They understand what we do and how we do it and it fits their investment goals. They reach out and ask smart questions. They’re intelligent questions. They’re not first-level or low-level questions. They’re more advanced because they’ve already gotten the foundation. They understand the basics, the concept, the benefits and all that stuff. Now they’re asking more specific questions catered to them. It saves my team or our investment counselors a lot of time because they come in as semi-sophisticated or at least educated real estate investors.

I do think real estate investing to be fair is a large market of people in the United States as an area of interest. Everybody is maybe too absolute. Most of the people that I know who have made a lot of money investing have made it in real estate investing in one way or another. A lot of the way that our country’s tax laws are structured and the way things were built. There are advantages for investing in real estate that there are not in investing in other things where you might put your money to make more. It’s a popular category and that probably has a little something to do with the popularity of your show. It’s certainly also a crowded niche on iTunes as well. It’s not like you’re the one podcast in a big market with little competition either. It speaks to something that you are providing and the authority that you have built in yourself is resonating.

There’s a lot of real estate podcasts out there now. There weren’t a good number of them a few years ago, but there’s a lot now. I bump into people every once in a while saying, “I’m thinking about doing a podcast,” or, “I’m in the process of recording episodes for the launch of a podcast in the real estate space.” There’s always room, even though it’s getting crowded. If you look at financial planners, people who are talking about stocks or stock trading or insurance or anything like that, there are tons of those too. There’s a lot of room and if you put out good content, people are going to check out a bunch of shows, subscribe to a bunch of shows and listen to them for a while. Maybe a few weeks or a few months and then ultimately, they’re going to stop listening to the ones that they don’t get a lot of value from. As long as you put out good content and good value, people will continue to subscribe to yours and then you come out at the top.

Do you mind sharing with everyone, because I wouldn’t want to do it on your behalf without asking, your average downloads per episode?

I don’t know if I know the answer.

I know pretty close.

We can share that information. I don’t trust and believe the numbers I see. You could probably explain the technicals. I’m with Libsyn and I’m in the process of migrating to a more expensive premium platform. It’s syndicated in many places. I honestly don’t know when you’re syndicated through Stitcher and iHeartRadio and all these other places if that clock stats with Libsyn.

They are supposed to. From my experience, I believe they do. There have been a lot of changes, especially at Libsyn, with their podcast download statistics tracking system. There’s been a lot written about that. Most of it is quickly after it publishes. According to the stats, your typical show is getting anywhere between 10,000 to 15,000 downloads an episode. For a weekly show, that’s a tremendous number. That’s good and it makes sense that you’re starting to monetize now with sponsors because you have a focused audience in terms of their interest areas. Their response to advertising in terms of conversion is much higher than other places they might advertise like local radio or anything else where it’s not as focused on listening audience. All of that makes sense. Thanks for letting me share that because that’s also helpful to people to understand what you can achieve.

I don’t know what the milestones are, but I read somewhere that 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000 are major milestones.

I also heard that being able to look at your podcast and how it performs has helped also dispel some myths. People were at a conference in San Diego and were told by representatives of a certain company that to get ranked on iTunes like you are high in that category, you have to be getting a large number of new subscribers regularly. I don’t believe that. In your example, if you were getting that many new subscribers every month according to what they said the formula needs to be listed as high as you are on iTunes, your downloads would be consistently going up episode after episode. That’s not logical. You’re pretty steady. The ratings and reviews play into that ranking significantly and steady, consistent downloads per episode also do. From experience, I don’t believe it has anything to do with your getting perpetually more and more subscribers. I’m sure you lose some and you gain some enough that your download stays consistent. That’s going happen, but I don’t buy it when they say it’s all about subscribers.

As long as you put out good content with good value, people will continue to subscribe to your podcast. Click To Tweet

Nobody knows the algorithm unless you work for Apple. I’m sure ratings and reviews play into it. New subscribers play into it. Maybe the velocity of downloads plays into it. For all we know, there can be some manual curation involved with places where.

We have to admit there could be because we’re not at Apple and we don’t know. I have learned that Apple has reduced its dedicated staff of employees that are dedicated to iTunes down to five from what used to be an awful lot more people. Those five people probably couldn’t keep up with manually manipulating those things all the time. That’s why the New and Noteworthy, we haven’t seen change much at all because no one’s focused on it.

I think I brought that to your attention, did I not?

You did, but you’re not the only one. I have other podcasters we work with, one who’s been in the New and Noteworthy in the business section for two years straight. She has no idea why and she’s not even publishing any new episodes on her show. That is random and was curated and maybe isn’t getting their attention anymore.

I happen to know two of the people that are highly ranked on that list. One happens to be a good friend of mine. He flat out admits. He said, “I got lucky. I got stuck there and I’ve been there for almost a year,” and he certainly gets traffic from it.

The person I know who’s on that list is getting 2,000 or 3,000 a month of the show consistently. It’s not the velocity of many shows. New and Noteworthy at one time had a formula to it. I don’t think there is anymore.

Are you also saying that there’s not a lot of value in it?

The people who are there are getting value. They are getting downloads from it but it’s not like being there is the magic bullet, not at all. All I can share is what I would call informed anecdotal evidence. I haven’t done scientific studies or data. I have the experience to share from people we work with like you. It’s always helpful for others to hear that because people get told all the time, “The first eight weeks, you need to achieve a certain amount if you’re going to end up on new and noteworthy.” That does not happen anymore. A few years ago, it did. I know it did because it changed dramatically. It used to be 1,500 to 2,000 podcasts listed in the entire list of new and noteworthy on iTunes. We saw ourselves move when we started going up that list over those eight weeks. Now, New and Noteworthy is showing about 23 or 26 something podcasts. It’s little and it hardly ever changes.

My question is, have you learned anything new from all your interviews now in terms of what helps to drive new subscribers to a show? Have there been any a-ha moments?

Not in subscribers specifically. I’d have to say no, there hasn’t been any new a-ha moments. The reality is nobody knows how many subscribers they have because that information is not shared with any of the podcasters. iTunes will never share it with you. There have been some a-ha moments for other nuggets of information that have been helpful. One of them that I learned and I did share and I’m happy to share again briefly is that the future of podcast listenership is going to migrate more away from iTunes and more toward Google and Google Podcast app. It’s in Android platform only now. I’m sure eventually they’ll make it available on iOS too, but it’s not their priority right now. In what I’ve learned about the number of employees dedicated to iTunes and Apple, they don’t make any money on that platform.

Don’t get me wrong, iTunes is still the primary distribution network, but I do see that shifting over a coming couple of years. There’s a lot of speculation, but you wonder if Apple is putting the resources behind it and they’re not making any money on it, how long are they going to continue to support it? It does take them resources to support it when you submit a feed and there’s a problem with it. They have to have staff responding to that. How long are they going to continue to do it? There’s that, but I also am excited about new distribution opportunities for podcasts. In particular, something new that has come to our attention and we’re working on a system for doing this properly. You can now get people to opt-in to be connected.

PPM 26 | Real Estate

Real Estate: If you produce a good quality show with good quality content, you don’t need to have pitching services.


If you want it on your website, instead of saying to people to subscribe on iTunes or subscribe on Stitcher, you could say subscribe through Facebook Messenger. You can be delivered the podcast. We can send it directly to them and they can play an entire podcast through Facebook Messenger. The advantage for you as a podcast host is if they subscribe that way, you knew who they are. They’re your subscriber and you have all their information. That’s some of the future of what’s been happening with the chatbots and Facebook Messenger in general. Facebook has opened it up to this ability to deliver content through there. You know who they are, that’s much more valuable information for you as a podcaster. We will let you know all of these and all our audience. These episodes will be available to you to check out at your leisure. We’ll make sure you have that as well. Marco, thank you so much for joining us. I do appreciate it.

I didn’t want to miss out. I wanted to do this.

Thank you. Our audience appreciates it. I sure do. I look forward to talking with you at some point in the not too distant future.

Thank you, Tom. I appreciate it.

Take care.

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About Marco Santarelli

PPM 26 | Real Estate

Marco Santarelli is an investor, author, and founder of Norada Real Estate Investments — a national real estate investment firm offering turnkey investment property in growth markets nationwide.

Marco Santarelli is also the creator of DealGrader™ – a scoring system that measures the investment quality of a real estate investment, giving you an overall snapshot of its profitability and investment risk.

He purchased his first real estate investment at the age of 18.  He successfully handled the entire rehab and property management of his first property without ever taking a course or reading a book on the subject.

Marco went on to get his real estate license and sell residential real estate for three years before leaving real estate sales to pursue other active business ventures.

Because of his love and passion for real estate, and desire to help others succeed in building their wealth through real estate investing, he eventually returned to real estate investing and founded Norada Real Estate Investments in 2003.

Today, Marco Santarelli is a licensed California real estate broker and runs a successful real estate investment firm focused on helping other investors build wealth and passive income through the power of income-producing real estate.


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