Farnoosh Torabi is one of America’s leading personal finance authorities — hooked on helping Americans live their richest, happiest lives. Millions have tuned into Farnoosh’s award-winning podcast, So Money, which made its debut in January 2015. On the show, she interviews leading experts, authors and influencers and the show has become one of the most wildly popular podcasts out there- especially to millennials, entrepreneurs and young women.

Farnoosh Torabi is the host of the award-winning podcast, So Money. She is a leader in personal finance, female breadwinners, and women and money. Tune in to hear her share how she's built her popular podcast and personal brand.

📈The three things that have helped build her hugely popular personal brand the most
🎧 Who is podcasting actually right for? {Could it be you…?}
📲 When Farnoosh knew it was the right time for her to start podcasting
📋 The most useful thing to consider when deciding what medium you’ll pursue
💸 How to make sure you’re making what you’re worth
1️⃣ The number one component Farnoosh applied to her podcast strategy to help her grow as quickly as she has
👻 How to handle the early phases when no one is reading/listening/buying
👍 How to handle the haters (and the key mindset that will actually make them a good thing)
💻 How you can start or grow your podcast under Farnoosh’s mentorship


Podcast Interview

Or listen to the show on iTunes.


Interview with Farnoosh Torabi

Transcription of Episode

Leah Gervais: Hey everyone. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. I am Leah from Urban 20 something.  I am very excited, a little bit fan growing myself, to be here interviewing Farnoosh Torabi today. She is so amazing. And she has a lot of amazing things to share with us. So we’re very, very lucky to have her. I’m going to introduce her really quick and then I’m going to ask her a couple questions about her podcast and, of course, side hustling because that’s my favorite thing. Then she’s going to have some things to share with us as well.

So any of you watching live just let me know that you all can hear us. Well, I’d appreciate that. But we are just going to get going. So her professional introduction, Farnoosh Torabi is one of America’s leading personal finance authorities. She is hooked on helping Americans live there richest happiest lives. Millions have tuned into her award-winning podcast so money which made its debut in January 2015, four years, on the show. She interviews leading experts authors influencers and the show has become one of the most wildly popular podcasts out there especially to millennials, entrepreneurs and young women. And just on a personal level, some of you that have followed me for a while, know that I listened to her new podcast before I even started my business. And I listened to it daily as I started it, built it and then eventually made it my full-time job. So she has made a huge influence in mine and so many others lives’ so thanks for being here Farnoosh.


Farnoosh Torabi: I am so excited to be here I feel like we’ve really come full circle a couple of times, right, between you being a listener to the show then coming on the show couple of times, right, and now I get to be on your Facebook Live. So just goes to show you, you know, the world is very big, but also can be very small as long as you just reach out and be your authentic self. I know that was your approach. You know, you didn’t try to sell me anything. You were just a fan and your note really was sweet and sometimes that’s all it takes, like, people don’t believe that, that you can actually just like reach out to people and they’ll respond to you. Crazier things have happened.


Leah Gervais: Yeah. At the end of the day, we’re all just human.


Farnoosh Torabi: Exactly, for sure.


Leah Gervais: Awesome. Well, Farnoosh you have one of the most popular podcasts out there. You’ve built such an incredible following and movement and platform and you’ve done it in four years, which is relatively short considering the growth that you have and I know that there’s probably so much that’s gotten behind it and you probably have as many seemingly, you know, obstacles and as many as wins but if you can kind of narrow it down to three things that you feel like I’ve really played a role in your growth and the brand you’ve built. I’m sure people would love to hear that.


Farnoosh Torabi: Sure that’s a really good question um. So cool.

So the podcast was definitely one of those moves that and that’s one of the three I think it’s you know, I feel like I’m started the podcast in 2015 more as a way to, you know, really try to do something new and different with my platform. You know, up until that point I was mainly doing TV and videos and books and writing and speaking. But, the podcast was sort of like… it was not so new. I mean, we have been doing podcasts many many years ago. But it didn’t really take off because the iTunes platform wasn’t born yet. And so podcasts didn’t really have the stickiness that they do now. It was a little bit more cumbersome… you had to download them and then like there was a whole thing so it didn’t quite take off and you know, the mid 2000s when I remember actually doing a podcast for a website that I worked for at the time called TheStreet.com. So, fast forward to 2015 I’m like this is really where a lot of the audience is going and so let’s try it out and I did. And fast forward, you know, not for years, like you mentioned, it’s been one of the biggest investments I’ve made for my brand, helped me to get out there more, and also to be out there more in a way that I can control, right? So, often when I’m working on my brand, and my business is always in partnership with other bigger entities that I can kind of leverage, right. So, I had a video series for Yahoo, I published books with publishers and so very grateful for those partnerships. But to some extent, your creative license kind of has its parameters around your creativity. With the podcast, this was kind of one of the first times in my career that I felt I had complete creative authority, which really excited me. I felt like it came in my life at the right time, because I had done a lot of learning up until that point, I had done a lot of failing and I’d seen what success looks like I’ve seen what failure looks like. And so I could apply all those things to grow the podcast and I think that is also a benefit to starting it when I did.

But going backwards even, you know, I’d say two other things that would help to build and establish my brand and kind of get me out there more were books, for sure. One of my first books, my first book, Your So Money came out during the recession of 2008, which was, you know, in some ways a terrible time to be trying to, like sell a product, a book, whatever you’re trying to sell. People were like, not having it, you know…I’m just trying to make ends meet. But also, people were just trying to make ends meet. So financial advice was hot and very much in demand. So I sort of arrived at the scene, you know, during a very important time in our history, and that really helped to get me out there more. The book did fine, but I think that more than the book it was about becoming an authority at that time period because of the book which then led to other kinds of work.

And then thirdly, I’d say that you know, I’m very proud of the last four years, going on for years, I’ve had a long partnership with Chase. And for me that has been a real point of pride because you know, it’s one of those things where I feel very grateful, I feel very special to have been selected by them to work with them as an ambassador role as a financial expert to go out there and talk to the Chase platform which is huge to like millions of people about financial health and everything that goes along with that. They’ve been a huge supporter of my work and so that partnership has been truly exceptional and I think I’m also just pinching myself thinking like it’s been almost four years that we’ve been working together. We work together a lot of capacity is you know, video, they sponsor my podcast, we do events, we do a lot of social media. And for me, it’s like a great way to practice what I what I love to do, which is, you know, spread the good word about money via like such an enormous and established vehicle like cheese. It’s been really fun.


Leah Gervais: One of the things I think that is so valuable in what you said, and one of the things I’ve talked to my clients a lot about, is just the importance of, you know, having something that is your own. And I think when I work with a lot of people that start side hustles, and a lot of times they want to start blogs, and it gets really tempting to do things like affiliate marketing because it seems very passive. But there’s not really anything about your brand or your position involved in that if you’re like, just selling for someone else. So I love how you really stay true to yourself and everything you’ve done and you’ve found that through a podcast and even with a partnership with a corporation. Partnerships can be good if they’re in alignment with you and a message you want to spread. So it’s very, you know, inspiring how much you’ve just really stuck with your mission.

And I kind of want to ask a follow-up question to that real quick, which is, you know, with podcasting, and just sort of media platforms in general. Now, there’s so many things, their social media, there’s blogging, those emails, there’s everything. And I know that a lot of times people feel this excitement about doing one or many of them, and then paralysis, and then maybe they don’t move forward or they don’t know how to choose. And you might still deal with some of that now, as you’re always growing, you know, but how did you say like, “okay, I’m not going to just write books. I’m not just going to speak, I’m going to do this podcast” and I guess you kind of answered that question. My more question would be, what would you say to someone now who is considering starting a podcast but also kind of has other interests in other mediums? Who’s podcasting really right for?


Farnoosh Torabi: That’s a really good question. I mean, Leah, you probably could answer this too, because you have a lot of interest and your I feel like you’re growing your business in a very thoughtful, strategic way. I mean, at the end of the day, I think it’s important to really be clear on what your goals are for the year. And for the long run. You know, for me, I’ll tell you, the reason I went to podcasting as opposed to a YouTube channel, I was considering a lot of things. I was like, do I do the YouTube thing? Do I, you know, just spend all my time on Facebook? Do I do another book? Do I do a podcast?  I think all of those things had their own merits. But I think that for me it the questions that I wanted, and like I really wanted to do something that allowed me to connect with my audience in a way that was really meaningful, truly. And what does that mean, right. I wanted to cover money in a way that hadn’t been covered before, whether it was ways that I’d seen out there in the world or even things that I’d already done. So I felt like I’d already done the video thing. Three years working with Yahoo, we had such a fun show that we did call financially fit which grew and grew and grew over the years and really exciting. And I felt like I, you know, I could like put the rest of my hat on that, like, move on. And more though I wanted to move on in a direction that I felt like I wanted to have deeper conversations about money. So that was something that I really craved. And then I also was a mom for the first time life and literally, you know, six months and not even like three months into motherhood. I got this idea to do a podcast and it really resonated with me because I felt as though, in terms of the time commitment and also the logistical commitment, it was really perfect for a parent who worked from home. I didn’t want to show like put on makeup and do my hair every day for a video. And, you know, I wanted to be able to… of course, I outsource a lot of the editing and the technicals but if I had to do it myself, it was something that I could do and I can do you know, some light podcast editing to save my butt if like, you know, for some reason my you know, my outsourcing doesn’t work out but video would be really difficult for me and really time to consume. So I kept going back to podcasting and I also was like, really excited by the fact that podcasting, now this was 2000… before 2015 I got the idea for podcasting. I launched in January 2015. So at the time, yeah, there were Serial was out there. There’s a lot of buzz around podcasting, but I could see the growth I could see that we haven’t quite reached a saturation point. And so that’s why I also like I didn’t want to do a blog. I felt like oh, to do a blog. It’s not even about your content. It’s about the marketing. It’s like there are millions and millions and millions of blogs. There’s like podcasts… even though we feel now, like, Oh, I’m going to start another podcast, like it’s like so hard to get out there. But relative to other kinds of media, it’s very new and fresh and small.
And so there were a lot of like paths that are leading me to, to doing the podcast. But I think I just had to be really honest with what I could what I was capable of doing at that time on and also where I felt like I could be my most authentic self on a consistent basis today. Don’t forget building a brand takes consistent effort. I could probably, you know, start the video thing but could I keep up with it right? No, I didn’t feel as confident in my ability to keep up with something that was to me. I mean, maybe someone else would disagree but to me like doing a video The way that I wanted to do it well edited, well produced would be far more time consuming laborious and all the things and more likely that I would experience fatigue but podcasting I felt like this is totally my wheelhouse. I went to journalism school you know, I I love interviewing people. And finally, you know, as you’re thinking about what medium to pursue, think about doing something where it’s sort of like the content keeps on giving. So podcasting right, I get transcripts those become articles that right so I could I technically have a blog for this podcast, right. And also it’s a great asset for media to then cover the podcast. When you have a transcrip, it’s much easier for like a reporter to go through your interview and pick out quotes and I’ve gotten so much press for the show, I think thanks to the fact that and make it so accessible via the transcripts.


Leah Gervais: That’s all such good advice. And first of all, I love that you just openly share that part… I think you were pregnant?


Farnoosh Torabi: I was just like emerging from maternity leave. I went to a conference as like, kind of like my coming out party, you know, my first like work party after a few months of being at home, and you know, I work from home. So I guess like just parenting full time, I was like, really eager to get out there again. And I had actually published a book before my son was born. So I kind of had book ended this pregnancy with like a book and a podcast. And for whatever reason, I was really eager to kind of get out there and make a big impact again, but you know, just trying to like survey the market a little bit. And at this conference was actually when I started to really notice a lot of movement towards podcasting and didn’t see a lot of women in the space, didn’t see anybody like me in the space, didn’t see anybody doing money in the way that I was doing it in the space and that’s again, another reason why I was really excited to pursue it because they felt like I was bringing something new to the world. Right? That it wasn’t just repeating a lot of what has already been out there.

Leah Gervais: And I think that that’s what people love about your podcast. Yeah, just saying, you know, being so open about that a lot of times people come to me and they’re like, I have this big vision. I want to start this big, you know, movement and then they get really quiet, and say and I also want to make a lot of money and I’m like, that’s okay. Like, don’t be shy about that, you know?


Farnoosh Torabi: Yeah, right. Um, money is important. And actually like women, a lot of women are watching like, Don’t forget that, you know, what you put out has value and you deserve to make money for that. And that is, is absolutely one of the things that motivates me. Okay, so let’s just talk about that for a second. As I was sort of learning about podcasting. I remember like going to this party. My friend was had like a party to celebrate her business. She’s in PR. One of the pot one of the guests there was a very famous podcaster and he was telling me his numbers, like six figures, and I don’t think he was a household name his podcast was good but it was it wasn’t exceptional, I don’t know, like but he knew how to market it he knew how to do good content and he was also like kind of one of the first like, the oh geez a podcast, and I was like okay this is proof positive for me and like I’m going to take this and I’m not gonna you know I’m not going to fool myself and I’m thinking like I’m going to make money overnight but I definitely know there’s money to be made and I’m going to keep that in mind as I built this show. It’s no secret that I’m the breadwinner, my family, like now I’m a mom. Parents know like you don’t work for free when you become a parent. You know, every your time is valuable. You want to do things that have an ROI. And and so yeah it I was profitable by month eight.


Leah Gervais: That’s so great to share because I also think one of the things about your podcast just from the outside looking in that has helped to grow so much is exactly what you just said you have been so consistent you put out five episodes a week right?


Farnoosh Torabi: I went from seven days a week to five days a week now I’m at three days a week sometimes four depending on… we have occasional and bonus episodes um. But yeah it was, I wouldn’t do it in that way and I’ll tell you why I wanted to do seven days per week. I just felt like, one it was a great way to differentiate. There’s like not a lot of shows that do that and it’s a great way to kind of get the media like a little like curious about your show like what is this like. You know, to learn all about your behind the scenes… like how is this woman was a baby, doing seven days a week from her house like what is she on? You fail fast, or you learn from your mistakes. I think also it allowed me to achieve milestones very quickly like I could go out within a month and say 100,000 downloads right within the first year a million downloads. Now that’s not like every episode is getting a million episode a million listens or it’s you know, it’s spread over many episodes but notice now that right I’m just saying like I have all these and I have actually seen that as I’ve reduced the volume the downloads have not dropped they’ve continued continue to grow. And I think that’s part of that’s human nature like people cannot listen to every episode right? The best one episode a week actually. But I think it’s harder to start today with one episode a week and grow. Probably better to start with a lot of content because also people get a sense of like, what they’re in for and they’re more likely to subscribe. Then, as you as you adjust the volume and the cadence of the show, they’re more likely to like listen to every single show after that people were saying like I just can’t listen everything Farnoosh. So I felt like a lot of the episodes were going to waste anyway. But it was great in terms of the beginning like just getting a lot of momentum right.


Leah Gervais: That’s such good advice for anyone listening out there if you’re in the earlier stages of your of whatever you’re doing your blog or social media whatever you feel like you’re putting things out there and no one’s really seeing, I felt like that when I started blogging I felt like no one really read it, and now when people, especially when they invest, they’ll go back. They want to do the research which makes sense and it’s really nice that they like will tell me I just binged on everything you’ve done. So if it doesn’t feel like it’s getting heard or seen or whatever first just know it’s not a waste of time.

Okay. I want to ask one more sort of different question. And then I want to leave anytime for you to share anything extra. But kind of touching on you know, you do a lot of work around being a female breadwinner. But just in general, since you have kind of taken a lot of risks and you know, in New York I don’t think it’s different to be a female breadwinner, but you have listeners from all over the United States. And so maybe there was some scariness talking about that. What do you do when you put something out there that isn’t well received? How do you move past the fear of what other people will think? I know that holds so many people back.


Farnoosh Torabi: I mean, the thing is, if you’re being honest, you’re being honest. And I think that that is just what you have to believe will ground you as you face negativity, different opinions. Look, I think that a good test of whether what you’re putting out in the world is a good idea is when there’s debate, right? I put out a book called When She Makes More about breadwinners, and everybody was like, applauding me and saying, yep, got it, we will move on very quickly. And it’s like, That, to me is not success, right? I want there to be growth and in order for them to go there has to be back and forth. There has to be a difference of opinions, there has to be debate. I won’t respond to people who are disrespectful or rude, but if yeah me with like a really interesting point of view that counters what I have presented let’s talk about it like that was the whole point and you know, by no means was I saying like, this is the end all book. I went out there with the book when she makes more with the intention that I wanted to just kind of break the ice because nobody, as far as I could tell, it was really diving deep into these critical issues surrounding couples where there was this income and balance, particularly with the female making more. It was like total taboo. I mean, money’s already a taboo topic and you add it to this, this layer of women making more it’s like zip, you know, so I I accepted that there was going to be from the get go, some resistance and there certainly was, and of course I felt I felt like misunderstood, you know, and it’s easy to kind of go and feel those ways. But ultimately you have to take a step back and go, the book is making an impact it’s affecting people and to this day, you know, people are coming to me to talk about the book because it is one of those things that just never gonna go away. And maybe some of us didn’t want to face the facts four years ago, but we’re now learning more and more there’s more data out there to support the thesis, which is that when she makes more relationships suffer. I don’t want that to happen, that’s why I wrote the book. But a lot of people even took issue with that predicament, like the fact that you’re even saying this is a step backward. Like let’s just not saying that because then that’s making women feel bad and I’m like, but I understand but like you can either live in reality… like I want to be where you’re at. But we cannot because I have a duty to my audience to get run practical advice. But living on a cloud is not practical. You know, maybe in your relationship, things are going great. I want to interview you. I want to profile you. I mean, the book is full of positive examples of couples that are making it work and thriving despite this, like, you know, this nuance. So anyway, to answer your question, I think if you are worried or scared about putting something out ther, trust that that is a good sign. You’re probably on to something.


Leah Gervais: Yeah. Otherwise, you’re just putting out something probably somewhat generic.


Farnoosh Torabi: Next, you know, it’s not going to create friction. You want something that does create that sense of friction. If you’re already feeling like a little, like butterflies in your stomach saying something out loud. Imagine… you’re not the only one right and, and people are going to really appreciate you for being that brave person to speak out and talk about it. And I you know, I often would disclaim when I was out there doing a lot of media around this that, you know, I don’t pretend to have all the answers but I do want to be that crazy person that’s going to go out there and, and, and put this out on the table, you know, at dinner parties. Um, it’s going to cause discomfort and but I think that’s still a step in the right direction. I think that is progress to be honest.


Leah Gervais: I love that. That’s so inspiring and such a good way to get out of your own head when you’re thinking like what are people going to think of me? It’s not always about us.


Farnoosh Torabi: It’s not always about me at all. I mean, it is they wrote it about like my life and it was born out of my own feelings but nobody can argue with your true feelings. You know, like how you feel is how you feel. To some extent. Like if you’re racist knowing like there’s just no there’s no going forward. But like you’re telling people that you how maybe a circumstance in your relationship made you feel emotionally, even though maybe it’s not politically correct. Like men would say to me, I feel emasculated when I make less. Should we just dismiss that right or dump him because he feels that way? I disagree. Others may not. But that’s where a good debate can really happen. Right?


Leah Gervais: Right. Awesome. Well, this has been amazing Farnoosh. Thank you so much. And I would just love to hear anything else that you want to share about your podcasting or your podcast, or podcasting in general. Because as also, you know, I have so many side hustlers that listen and I get a lot of messages asking about podcasting, and I have nothing to tell them.
Farnoosh Torbai: Well, I have a side hustle. Yeah, so last year, I launched a very small hands on group coaching program called the So Money podcast accelerator. A lot of people were coming up to me, asked me about my podcast, they were interested in launching theirs and I felt like Okay, let’s do something official. Let’s put together a program that carries you through the birth of a podcast. Like you want to start a podcast. Let’s do it. So 12 weeks dedicated to helping you launch. Also this time around, as we are now entering the next phase of this program opening it up to existing podcasters that have shows that feel like, you know what, I really want to do more with regards to growing the show driving more traffic to the show perhaps getting some press getting some more interesting guests or just kind of read formatting the show… I kind of want to take step it up a notch and I would love some guidance around that. So we also have a pro version of the so many podcasts accelerator it’s a mouthful but I will send you the link. We’re launching or kicking off things again in February the data still fluid but it’s probably like the second week of February um, it’s a high touch program so there’s a lot of podcast programs out there that just a series of videos and it’s like $200 and you know, they all have their value but I think what it’s really valuable about our program is that you get tons of accountability. We have a Facebook group, we have group calls, we have very specific to do list every two weeks so that nobody falls off the wagon. And of course, we’re here for you at any stage you’re at with podcasting. So if you’re interested, now’s the time to sign on. We’re signing on people this month.

Leah Gervais: Amazing. Well, I just put the link below this video and I will put it in the bio afterward. But that sounds like an incredible opportunity for anyone that is interested in podcasting and anyone that’s watching this that has ever thought of this… there’s no one that I can think of in the world better to learn podcasting and so thank you for sharing this with my pleasure.

Farnoosh Torabi: When is your podcast coming?


Leah Gervais: It’s funny that you say that I was just thinking the other day how I when I started out I had what I talked about earlier where I wanted to do everything and I wanted to do all the social media platform forums and blogging and blah blah blah. And then last year I feel like I really buckled down and honed in on just a couple of things, and when a lot in them, and it did really well, you know, focusing on a couple things and being really consistent got me really far. And now I’m sort of like to kind of want to do something new again, now that I’ve gotten to like that next level of growth. So we’ll see what maybe


Farnoosh Toraib: To be determined. I like your pacing though, you know, don’t go for the shiny objects. Yeah, you know, that, that when you talked earlier about, like, do I do the affiliate thing, do I…? I mean, it just really also depends on where you are at your stage of your business and what your goals are. I you know, sometimes I’ll do a little affiliate stuff, but it’s not my friend and butter and it’s certainly not what I’m building my brand off of, you know, right.


Leah Gervais: Well, and I think you know, one of the things we all should remember and that helped me get through that point. Because, you know, when you’re creative, you want to do all the things.. it’s just a temporary time where you really have to focus on a couple of things. It’s not forever. So saying no to things, I know it can be hard, but it’s just a temporary No. It’s just a phase where focusing on other things and as you expand and as you build, then you can go to other things too. So if anyone else that’s watching this feeling like they want to try all these different things just be patient because it totally pays off to get really good at first. Like my thing, all last year was email marketing and now I like know everything actions.

Farnoosh Torabi: Yes, become a genius in a few things, right. Right. Hundred percent as opposed to just mediocre and 20 things be like excellent in one or two things. That is a good long game right?
Leah Gervais:

Awesome. Alright, well, thank you so much. It was so great to hear from you. If anyone watching this has any questions about her her program you can reach out to me or her and no matter what you also downloaded, subscribe to her podcast. It will literally change your life changed mine and I know so many others. So thanks for joining us Farnoosh and I’ll see you soon.


Farnooh Torabi: Thank you so much. Leah. Bye.

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