Valuable Free Education For Rental Hosts!

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In this podcast, James Varley, founder of Holiday Cottage Handbook, discusses the importance of audience-focused content creation and shares insights on starting a podcast. He highlights his transition from a media-rich career to property investment and short-term rentals, emphasizing the need for content to resonate with its audience. Holiday Cottage Handbook, a free educational platform for rental hosts and managers, aims to monetize through sponsorships, capitalizing on its growing audience.

James advises new podcasters to research thoroughly, prepare well, and focus on networking opportunities that podcasts offer.

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Timestamps (audio)


[00:00:00] James: If, if they're not going to find it interesting or if it's not offering value to them, then there's no point doing it, you know, don't, don't do something because you think, Oh, this will be cool. If it's not relevant to your particular audience, then it's, it's not relevant. So always have the audience at the heart.

[00:00:16] Every bit of content that you're gonna produce, having a blast. Gonna get it on the Bruce Lee podcast. Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee, 'cause it's so hard on the tea, is loose leaf. Looking up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loosely. If you want my respect, you are better. Put direct. Mm. Here are the words in the podcast.

[00:00:33] That's what comes next.


[00:00:34] Liam: Hi, and welcome back to the Boostly podcast. This is the podcast that gives hosts the tools, the tactics, the training, and most importantly, the confidence. So you can go out there and get yourself more direct bookends. Today, we've got the spotlight series, and this is where we shine the Boostly spotlight on services, people, and things which you as a host need to know about.

[00:00:54] And today we've got a special guest. We've got James Varley. He's a founder. He's a podcaster of Holiday Cottage Handbook, and you can go and check them [email protected]. We're gonna be learning what that is, how it can help you as a host, and just diving into his experience and, um, listening, to his advice on the matter.

[00:01:14] So thank you for joining me, uh, today, James.

[00:01:17] James: It's a real pleasure Liam. Thanks for having me.

The elevator pitch

[00:01:19] Liam: So James, I know I've given you a brief introduction, but can you give us kind of the elevator pitch? What is it that you do and whereabouts in the world are you based?

[00:01:28] James: I'm based just between Leeds and York, so in the north of England.

[00:01:32] In terms of the Holiday Cottage Handbook, it's a communications platform and we are dedicated to sharing valuable free education. for short-term rental hosts, investors and property managers, plus people in the industry. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible to start being a short-term rental host and also to help people who are already in the industry to upskill with tips, trends, and best practices.

[00:02:00] Um, the goal is to become the go-to place for the short-term rental industry.

Why short-term rental?

[00:02:05] Liam: But talk me through the history and, and, you know, really why What do you care about short-term rental?

[00:02:12] James: I think first of all, to understand why I've set this up, you probably need to know about my career. So I've been in the media my entire career.

[00:02:19] I started off working in newspapers. I've worked with magazines. Um, I've worked in radio and TV. Um, and then for the last 10 years, I was working out in Qatar for the World Cup organizing committee, where I was managing corporate communications. So I'm, I'm all about the media content marketing. All this kind of stuff.

[00:02:38] Uh, I came to the property, uh, when I was living in Qatar. That's when I started investing properly. Um, and I started off investing in, in normal vanilla style by to let's, uh, but then a few years later, my, my daughter arrived and The main reason for moving into short-term rentals was because as a family, we needed somewhere to stay in the UK, but also I could see the way the wind was blowing in terms of, you know, the property situation in the UK government making it harder and harder to make money from regular buy to let.

[00:03:11] Short-term rentals exploding in popularity, obviously the prominence of Airbnb and then later booking. com and all the other OTAs. Um, and it just felt like this was an opportunity to, um, to have a much more viable business in, in property and at the same time have somewhere, uh, for us to stay when we were back in the UK.

[00:03:32] So, so that's why I switched. What

[00:03:34] Liam: is the, as a, as a business or as somebody producing that, why Is, is there anything that you sell or is there anything to buy or is this just free, free content?

[00:03:46] James: It's, it's free. And I think that's the beauty of it for hosts and property managers. And we're very much committed to the, the sharing economy ethos, which, which this industry latterly has been built on through, through Airbnb, um, and the other OTAs.

[00:04:02] Um, so yeah, you know, for the, for the end user, it will, it will always be free. And that's the way we'll approach it in terms of how we make money. My, thinking is that there are a lot of businesses and companies in the short-term rental sector who once we've built a decent-sized audience will want to get in front of that audience, and hopefully be sponsoring our podcast and newsletter and, our other channels as well as you know we're going to have the ebook is going to become a.

[00:04:27] an annual edition, so we'll be updating it every year and then, uh, it'll be available to download again for free on the website, so we'll have sections on there that will be available for sponsorship, um, and we're also developing a new section on the website as well. You know, as I said before, I'm, I'm always trying to think of what the audience might want to improve their experience and help them become better hosts and property managers.

[00:04:49] So. We're working on a section of the website, which is A to Z of STR, and we're going to keep updating that all the time with new sections, new information, and links to different companies. Again, that entire platform will be available for sponsorship, and then there will be certain sections that different companies might want to sponsor.

[00:05:08] So if there's a PMS section, there's a lot of companies that might want to sponsor that. For example, book direct section, maybe Boostly would want to sponsor that.

Advice for the people out there  

[00:05:15] Liam: What was the, um, what, what advice would you have for people out there? Cause I speak to hosts and what you've said there about starting, you know, saying to people what you're going to do and then doing it reminds me of, of there's a book I think it's called Draw Fire aim or something like that, where actually.

[00:05:33] You know, you're shooting first before us before it's even set up by telling people about it, you're much more likely to take action. And there's something that we believe in that the Boostly mastermind. So part of what we do within Boostly for people who have bought the website, we have a free mastermind, uh, each month, well, say free.

[00:05:53] Once they've bought the product, they're, they're able to come to the mastermind and, uh, just. Saying your goals are much more, the chances of things happening and just so much more likely. But what would you say to somebody who's out there going, do you know what I'm thinking about starting a podcast?

[00:06:08] Or I think I've got an angle, a niche within my hospitality arena or in their arena in general. What advice would you have for them about starting a podcast?

[00:06:19] James: Do your research, first of all, I think. You know, make sure you've got the right equipment. Um, if you need help, get some help. Um, if you need advice, get advice.

[00:06:29] I think, I think that's important. I mean, I've spent, like I said, all my career in the media and I've, I've had my radio shows. I've done live TV. I've done live broadcasting before, but, I knew that I needed a little bit of help. Um, you know, when it came to the editing when it came to the production to make sure that when you kick off, you've, you've got things right.

[00:06:47] Um, in terms of the, do you know, the, the great thing about having a podcast is when you start, you might not have many listeners. You might have five downloads a week, and 10 downloads the next week, but, the golden thing about it is that you're meeting people and you're networking. Generally, the people that you're interviewing for different companies are the founder the CEO, or a very senior person.

[00:07:15] And. that gives, that gets you in front of those people, they're an unbelievable networking tool. So even if nobody's listening, don't worry because you're developing a relationship with whoever you're interviewing and you never know where that might lead in future. I mean, for example, the, the second time we had a podcast recording session, um, you know, we had one of the guests came on from, from a PMS.

[00:07:43] Um, you know, we had a great interview. I think he was really kind of. inspired by it and just really enjoyed, you know, being interviewed and talking about his company and, you know, offering advice and this kind of thing. And then as usual, after I've interviewed somebody on the podcast, I get in touch with them and thank them for, coming on the show and then say, Hey, look, this is what we're doing at Holiday Cottage Handbook.

[00:08:04] Um, these are some options for sponsoring the podcast or sponsoring newsletters. And the next day he came back and he said, look, I know you're just starting. I know you don't have hundreds of thousands of. subscribers and followers right now, but I'm inspired by your vision. I think it's great. And here's some, here's some sponsorship money to get you going.

[00:08:21] So, you know, and that was before we'd even edited that podcast. So I think. Initially, there was such an amazing networking tool. They're great for building your brand. And, and, and also, you know, one thing that we're finding is that all the, you know, your first couple of podcasts, they might not get loads of loads of downloads, but once you hit a popular podcast or somebody comes on, who's a big name, you know, Simon Lehman was a big boost for us.

[00:08:49] You know, he was after three days of launching that episode, he was the most listeners to podcasts that we had. But then people were then finding the other episodes and they're going back and listening to the other ones. And the great, the great thing about podcast is that, you know, you might have a hundred episodes before you, you hit something popular.

[00:09:06] But once people find you, then they go back and start engaging with your other episodes and then your other content as well. So, you know, don't. Don't worry about only having a few listeners at the start because you're networking, you're building your business, you're building your brand and you're building a body of content which will stand you in great stead in the future.

What advice would you give yourself?

[00:09:26] Liam: What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to the start of, your hosting days or for somebody else who, um, is, is just getting started? And I, I, I suspect I know what you're going to say, but let's, uh, let's see what, what it is.

[00:09:42] James: I mean, preparation is. is everything. I mean, you know, when I worked in radio and TV, you could never have enough questions prepared.

[00:09:51] Um, make sure you listen to what your guest is saying. And sometimes that can be difficult because as an interviewer, and this is something I've found throughout my career, you're kind of concentrating on your next question or you're thinking about what you're going to ask next. And sometimes it's very easy for that thought to go out of your mind.

[00:10:11] And then suddenly you find yourself a bit flustered. Be prepared, have stuff written down, but try your very best to listen, because I think sometimes in podcasts and interviews, if the interviewer isn't listening to somebody, it's really easy for the listener to then think, Oh, I wanted to hear more about that.

[00:10:29] Or why didn't he follow up about that? Or why didn't he, why didn't he mention this? So be prepared. do your research, have loads of questions in front of you, and if you've, if you, if you are prepared, then you are going to be in a position to listen to the person and to ask those, those follow-ups that, that you should want to hear as an interviewer, uh, and also what your, what your listeners are going to want to hear, and, and that probably follows on to another point, which I try to, um, adhere to for every bit of content that we produce, always have your, your audience at the heart of everything.

[00:11:01] You know,

[00:11:20] If, if they're not gonna find it interesting or if it's not offering value to them, then there's no point doing it. You know, don't, don't do something 'cause you think, oh, that'll be cool. If it's not relevant to your particular audience, then it's, it's not relevant. So always have the audience at the heart of every bit of content that you're gonna produce.

[00:11:39] Having a blast. Gonna get it on the Bruce Lee podcast. Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on the tea loose leaf, making up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loosely.