Monetize a Podcast Audience with a Mobile App with John Lee

4 Minutes Read

Episode 77

John Lee wants to monetize a podcast audience with a mobile app. He is a well-rounded Product Owner/Manager with over ten years of product management, marketing operations, and business consulting experience. 

He drives product development in a strategic, customer-centric, and incremental approach, focusing on continuous execution towards impactful improvements that create memorable user experiences. He’s a founder of Custom Mobile. They build branded mobile apps for podcasters to stand out, engage, and convert their audience. 

John Lee, during our interview, talks about his first business and what went wrong, and what he would recommend for others to do when wanting to travel the startup journey. 

Tune into this episode for an excellent new app that can help podcasters monetize their show and tips for startups. 

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the complete Episode:

  1. The monetization of a podcast through a mobile app.
  2. Owning the platform and the relationship with your audience.
  3. Startups are learning machines.

Episode Highlights

Who is John Lee

    • Founder of a mobile app that helps podcasters to monetize their content.
    • He currently has a full-time job as a Product Manager for a software company.
    • John initially wanted to become a veterinarian, completing his degree in animal science.
    • He spent his 20s doing different things, which included social work, teaching, and volunteering.

John’s path to entrepreneurship

    • As part of his MBA curriculum, he attended entrepreneurship classes.
    • The entrepreneurial bug bit about ten years ago and got him thinking about designing software products.
    • It has been nearly seven years since his career pivoted into software product design.
    • He hopes to build and grow his side business to be a full-time entrepreneur in years to come.

Building his app

    • The journey started three years ago where John tried to build his social podcast app.
    • He loved podcasts and wanted to interact with the shows he listened to but found it wasn’t easy. There were multiple steps that he had to do manually.
    • The initial idea was born from a desire to create an app. This app would allow listeners to engage with the show directly by tapping a button next to the episode.

Learning from his mistake

    • John hired an agency to develop the app, and the outcome was not what he had hoped for after an investment of $100,000.
    • He admits that his initial excitement led to poor decisions.
    • He had a decision to make. Continue as is, pivot, or give up. He decided to pivot as he had the framework that he could customize to help podcasters.

Startups are learning machines.

    • John’s neighbor used the analogy of startups being like learning machines.
    • You need to learn as quickly as possible and adapt to the environment as soon as possible. Learn what not to do and when you need to pivot.
    • John continues to embrace the entrepreneurial journey and the learning process that comes with it.

From passion to monetization

    • Podcasters and content creators often start with a passion project to build into a proper business.
    • Instead of focusing on growing your audience and listenership, the focus should be on monetization. You are turning listeners into patrons or customers.
    • Just as websites have become easy and affordable, mobile apps move in this direction, making them more accessible to smaller businesses.

You don’t need to be famous

    • Becoming famous and attracting advertisers is not the only way to monetize your business.
    • By having a modest audience with great engagement, you can have a sustainable business.
    • There are other ways to monetize your audience by directing them to other offerings like a book or a course.

Owning the platform

    • When distributing your content on various networks and platforms, you do not own the platform as a business.
    • For whatever reason, they can shut your account down, and this includes social media channels.
    • Creating a mobile app, however, allows content creators to own the platform and build a community. 
    • The benefit is that you can convert the listener into a patron from inside the listening experience by having a call to action real close to your content.

Owning the relationship 

    • A mobile app is like the front door to your shop, and it sits in the pockets of potential or existing customers. 
    • It’s easier to engage and build community, allowing you to own the relationship with your audience. Users can also interact within the app.
    • Instead of consuming your content for free on another platform, this is a way to bridge the gap for a deeper connection with your audience.

Making it affordable and accessible

    • John’s mission is to make mobile app development more affordable and accessible.
    • There are three tiers, the lowest starting at $6 a month. The most comprehensive package is for podcast networks with multiple shows, which is $30 a month.
    • It’s as affordable as having a website.

Advice for doing a side hustle

    • Make sure it does not become the essential thing in your life because it can quickly overtake all other priorities in your life.
    • Separate time out of your day.

How does John want to be remembered?

    • John wants people to remember him as a good husband, father, and friend.

3 Powerful Quotes from this Episode

Forward Thinking

7:41 – “More podcasters need to start thinking about their shows as businesses.”

His Idea    

13:24  “I wanted to build an app where I could tap a button right next to the episode I was listening to and engage the show directly.”

The Journey

20:06 – “It’s the journey, it’s choosing the journey of entrepreneurship. I think more so than going into it thinking like I’ve got a solution, I’m going to build a solution, and I’m going to release to the world.”


About John Lee 

John Lee, originally an animal science major turned founder of a small side project called Custom Mobile. App, works full time as a product manager at a software company. 

His mission is to help podcasters monetize their audience by building a beautiful branded mobile app.

He’s also a husband and father to a five-year-old who loves his family and thinks that managing your time is vital to spend it on what matters most. 

Connect with John



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Darrell Evans

Darrell Evans is a serial entrepreneur, investor, and Co-founder/CEO of Yokel Local Digital Marketing Agency. He and his teams have helped businesses generate over $300M+ in revenue online. Every month, he leads virtual workshops teaching actionable strategies and tips from his experience helping companies market, grow, and scale.