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Ramona Rice & the Spapreneur Podcast

Ramona Rice

Ramona Rice is an award winning content marketing professional. She also is an owner of DeStress Express Massage Therapy.

Ramona discovered her love of content marketing while working as the Director of Spa Operations for DeStress Express. Joining DeStress Express full time in 2008, Ramona quickly implemented new processes for promoting the spa on social media making DeStress Express one of the first spas in the country to embrace social media. She created the email system and client booking that DeStress still uses with its 7,500 clients.

We did the avatar exercise that so many podcasters skip, where you build the avatar and we said: “Who is this woman?”  Because in the spa industry, it’s primarily women. Who are we trying to reach? Her name is Clair and she has children.  She has a whole life story that we built around….. We have a Facebook community that is quickly growing – that is crazy. We now have real life names, so we’ll actually shout them out on Podcast and they get super excited to hear us and the biggest thing is, we’ve been so lucky in our career to go from my mom starting her business, one massage room-and we now have a 4000 square foot day spa and we keep expanding…..“What else could we do?” And we said: “We don’t want to grow our business anymore; the physical business. So, instead, we’re going to grow other people’s businesses.” So, that’s where we’re heading to.

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ALEXANDER LAURIN: The “Spapreneur” podcast, “We should not be friends” podcast, the “Sports Gal” podcast, and you produced the “Tiny Potters” podcast. Where did you get the bug for podcasting?

RAMONA RICE: It’s a fun story. I attended a conference in Las Vegas in April 2015. The conference no longer exists, it’s New Media expo and I got sent there by the company I was working for and he wanted to know about New Media. So I went there and I was having dinner with a man named Marc Aasquith who is the co-founder of Podcast websites and he and I were having dinner one night and he asked me: “Why is your handle ‘Sports Gal Pal’”? And I said: “Well, I’m really into sports and all and I’m a girl- Sports Gal- with my husband and he’s like: “That would be a podcast. It’s a perfect podcast.” And I’m like: “Okay, fine. I’ll make that a podcast.” And what happened was, I was doing a rant about a sports podcast I didn’t like in Las Vegas in a lobby and Jay Soderberg who’s head of content at Bloggedtick radio over heard me and gave me show and that’s how I started. Six weeks later, Sports Gal Pal was born. Then, from there, I met my coach for when “We should not be friends” which was a short-lived podcast; I think 29 episodes in all, over 6 months and the “Spapreneur” came about and then “Tiny Potters” and I do some consulting with the podcast company- Podcast Websites, and it just happened really accidentally and now I’m in love with podcasting.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: Awesome. I listen to your last episodes of “Spapreneur” and it was very amusing. It was a topic that I hadn’t even thought about before. You were talking about “Weanie whackers”. You had a term for it, men that go to spas for massage somewhere. There was a specific term, I missed it.

RAMONA RICE: [inaudible] [02:00] massage has a happy ending and we did it, one, because it was a topic we wanted to cover but then with all the sexual harassment that’s going on, the media, and politics that we thought it was a great time. My mom is my co-host and she’s doing a successful day spa with me in our area for 21 years and trust me, if it has happened in a day’s spa, we’ve heard it. So, we’re like: “that’s how we get our podcast.” And from there our podcasting company has been born and we’re helping Spapreneurs, all over the world. Out of all my podcasts, this has been the most successful. We only have 25 episodes, 8000 downloads, for a super niche show, I mean super niche. We’re day spa owners and it’s seriously my fastest growing podcast today.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: It was quite amusing. The two of you have a great dynamic. Well obviously, mother and daughter. It was so funny. But it was also very serious too. So you guys totally pulled it off.

RAMONA RICE: Thank you. The episode, most of the time they are just ridiculous and fun. We just think that business education is going to be boring. Just because we are spa owners does not mean we have to talk in spa voices or be Namaste all the time. We are real people, we do a lot of real stuff and our clients do real stuff and so, our real aim for this podcast is to help especially those solo massage therapists because it’s an industry that you’re by yourself. Probably podcasting, sometimes particularly for solo podcasters, if can feel really lonely. So it’s nice to have someone else say: “Yes! We deal with this too and this is how we deal with it.” And we choose humour. That’s what we choose to do.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: I was getting that Ramona because I was listening to it and I thought: “Well, this is a great podcast. Especially for someone who’s in the industry has no mentorship, has no guidance. Maybe they’re working for someone that just doesn’t care. Or even like you said the Solo-prenuers doing it.” Was that your intention?

RAMONA RICE: It was. We did the avatar exercise that so many podcasters skip, where you build the avatar and we said: “Who is this woman?” Because in the spa industry, it’s primarily women. Who are we trying to reach? She gave her name, her name is Clair, she has children. She has a whole life story that we built around there and every time we do an episode, now, because we have so many devoted fans. We have a Facebook community that is quickly growing, that is crazy. We now have real life names, so we’ll actually shout them out on Podcast and they get super excited to hear us and the biggest thing is, we’ve been so lucky in our career to go from. My mom started her business, one massage room-and we now have a 4000 square foot day spa and we keep expanding, we keep growing and we just decided: “what else could we do?” And we said: “we don’t want to grow our business anymore; the physical business. So, instead, we’re going to grow other people’s businesses.” So, that’s where we’re heading to.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: Excellent. So, I heard “spa” and I heard “massage”, but, what other areas do you talk about? What else do you talk about?

RAMONA RICE: Well, what we talk about specifically with Spapreneur, is the business side of day spa. So we don’t really talk about like, modalities which is, how to massage someone, how to give a facial, nail care techniques. Nail techs are also included in this and people who do hair removal, waxing, so, many spas. Even some salon owners have listened for hair. But we really talk about the business stuff like how the handle the money. We have a phrase, I’m not going to say it, but it’s still an “‘F’ with the money”, but we actually use the real word because we are like: “this is really important that a lot of people go into that industry wanting to help people. But they have no clue how to run a business and so they know how to help the people but they don’t know how to create a Profit and Loss statement or how to do accounting or how to do inventory. So, that’s what we help them with, seeing the business side of it and also letting them know that they can grow, or they can have a successful business of whatever size. If they want to stay a one-person day spa, great. They want to be like us, and be crazy and have 30 massage therapist, and aesthetician under them and nail techs and a full time front desk staff, then, we can handle that too because we’ve been through it all.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: You mentioned “Avatar”, so I’m hearing John Lee Dumas in the background with Avatar. I’ve heard him say that. Was he your original mentor?

RAMONA RICE: Actually, in podcasting? No. It was Jay Soderberg, Podvaders. John and I actually worked together at Podcasters websites. I’m the community manager there. So, he’s obviously very involved I that business and he’s famous for the “Avatar” but that’s something that used a lot I think by a lot of different podcasters and it’s just really important. When you’re just coming out, you don’t know who your audience is, the problem is that if you don’t really hone it, you’re going to be talking to everybody which means you’re going to be talking to nobody and I want to tell people, a lot of them want to be like John where they’re huge and they’re famous in podcasting and have all these downloads and instead I argue: “Go back to that one person you’re serving. It doesn’t matter what their name is and what their story is you need to go and ‘What does this person need?’” You can start there and guess what? Those people will find you and they’ll start telling you what they specifically need from you show.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: Ramona, you mentioned business strategies for people who own spas. Is this podcast also a business development tool for yourself and your mom?

RAMONA RICE: Yes, it’s a lead magnet for sure because we have courses and now we’re about to launch a boot camp class setting next year. So it’s helping us build the community that we otherwise wouldn’t have had for spa consultancy. But really, it’s designed to be a podcast. It’s designed to be fun, first and foremost. Business doesn’t have to be boring and in the day spa, I make the joke, I say: “Look, you’re doing naked people all day long.” Which is true, that’s funny, and you’re laughing. But it’s true and when people take their clothes off, they make really bad decisions sometimes and or they say silly things. They just lose their minds. So, it’s your job as to [inaudible] [08:04] person in the room, keep your sanity. So this is the advice I offer. Because this is something that they don’t teach you in massage school.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: Yes. When people take their clothes off, they make some really bad decisions.

RAMONA RICE: It’s a really good life lesson in general for many things. Kids, keep your clothes on.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: What’s it like podcasting with your mom, because in that last episode, I think you guys were podcasting in the closet, the dog was around, the children were downstairs, making noise. What’s it like? Does it help your relationship at all?

RAMONA RICE: It’s the same as always. But I’m famous for recording in my closet. I’m actually in my closet right now. That’s where my studios are set up. So, I’m in the closet, the dog is laying next to me because we live near an Air Force base and the jets are going off right now and she gets really nervous. So, she’s laying right next to me and when I podcast, she lays right there and that happened that day and typically like the kids because I’ve been podcasting now, two and a half years. They know, because they’re podcasters now. That they’re like: “No, it’s serious.” And they come in the closet too. I do live webinars for a podcast websites members and they see me in the closet and they’re like: “Yeah, what clothes does she have displayed?” So I always have to make sure it’s nothing too revealing, anything I’d be embarrassed if someone see. But, other than that, and honestly it just sounds really good in the closet. [inaudible] [09:20] So, why not use the space when you have it?

ALEXANDER LAURIN: Yeah, absolutely. You sound like a wonderful role model for your children. Now, honestly, did you have to twist their arm for podcasting ‘because I’ve tried it with my daughter and it’s difficult to get her going. What was it like to get your children started on a podcast?

RAMONA RICE: Oh no, they have been wanting a podcast and I kept holding them off because again, it goes back to what I said before. You have to have a specific reason to want to do a podcast. And we started listening to Harry Potter on audible and they loved it, first of all we listen to all seven books over the course of this past year and then they wanted to listen to more podcast about it. Well, all the podcast were made by grown-ups for grown-ups. They weren’t made for children and I’m like: “this is wrong!” These books were originally bought in the children’s section. I mean I know they’re beloved and grown-ups love them too. I loved them. So I came and said: “you guys, I’ve always wanted a podcast.” They’re like: “Yeah?” I’m like: “Let’s do a Harry Potter one.” They’re like: “Okay”. So, they planned out the episodes and they do the driving. I come in at the end as mommy pop quizzed asking some mommy question. But they leave that show and it has been a lot of fun. We’ve been having a lot of support from a group called Kids Listen. They’re a co-op. of some amazing kid friendly podcast and that really serve the need because I think parents are looking for a lot of less screen time but more still audio. So with the Lexi devices and Google home and those items. And with Bluetooth now installed in cars. We’re looking alternatives because the music lately, it’s not appropriate for my children, I’m sorry. It’s just not the ones that are being produced today. And I could spend time with [inaudible] [11:02], great audio books and things like that enrich their lives. So now they’ve read several of the best books in time in children’s literature just by being in the car, so that’s not time wasted. And it allows us to talk about different things and all. So, they really lead that show and it’s been a lot of fun to watch. Plus, it’s great for me to inspire that creative and entrepreneurial spirit in them at such a young age because now they’re going to know “this is why we’re at it, this is why we talk over the microphone.” We talk about good microphone techniques, ‘this is how we adjust the mixer’ and things like that and you never know what that might take them. So as long as they love doing it, I’ll help them.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: Wow. I love it Ramona. That is so awesome. Now, as Podcasters, we tend to take things a little bit seriously at times and I’m imagining your children podcasting and for adults it’s very fun. But for kids, they must probably go through the roof. As you’re overlooking it, as you’re producing it are you serious about it or you’re just letting it go and just letting them be free with it sort of thing?

RAMONA RICE: It’s funny, at first we recorded a couple episodes before I left the podcast movement this year, and I realized that I constrained them and that’s not the point of the show. The point of the “Tiny Potters”, and that’s what the show is called, is for them to talk about Harry Potter and I’m like: “I can’t tell them what to do.” So, instead we talked about the structure the show, but I let them go. Sometimes I will pause and go: “Okay, we’re going way off topic guys. Let’s go back in. So’ I’ll do that as more of a trying to get them back onto the path of where they should be but I never tell them what they need to say, I never tell them points they need to make. I make suggestions like a good podcast producer would. That’s a fair and I would honour that and sometimes I think some of the episodes, I’m just like: “Oh my God.” They spend probably a good 15 minutes talking about the various candies [inaudible] [12:58] I was bored out of my mind. But that’s what they wanted to talk about and for the 9/11ers also listening, they want to hear those things. They want to hear what other kids have to say about this. It’s just really important that if you do choose to do any type of podcast consultancy at all. You have to remember who’s in charge of that podcast and ultimately it’s not even the host as the listeners. So if the listeners want something, you need to give it to them.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: Ramona, you’ve been podcasting for a while, you have this wonderful amount of experience. Do you have a particular favourite moment in your podcasting life and career?

RAMONA RICE: Oh, that’s a good question. You know honestly, I think my favourite moment has been with my mom during the Sparenuers podcast is, all we are doing is having a bunch of fun. But it’s when I was getting the emails an actual “Thank you card”. Someone looked up our day spa. One of our listeners, and I figured where we lived, looked up our day spa, found our address and sent us a “Thank You” card and explained how much the podcast meant to her. That was a huge eye opener that obviously we’re filling in a huge need and the just seeing how excited my kids are when they got their first thousand downloads. They were so excited for themselves and proud. And then, my favourite thing in podcasting is when I see new podcasters that I’ve worked with on websites or just do various podcast. We’re a big family, though a small family if that makes sense. In the podcasting community, everybody kind of knows everybody, or you’re two degrees separately from everybody. And just seeing when someone succeeds. The last time one of my really good friends got the best history podcast independent and big MPR shows or my friend Jonathan Oaks at Trivial Warfare when he hit massive numbers and was invited to be a featured person on Patreon along with the minimalist who won the largest podcast in the world. But he’s right there with them. For me, those are the moments when I’m like: “Wow, this is just an incredible medium. And I just love that I’ve been invited to participate so fully in it.”

ALEXANDER LAURIN: Ramona, from pre-podcast to today, have you changed at all?

RAMONA RICE: Yes, in a lot of different ways and for a lot of different reasons. I think now, I’m a much better listener than I was before. I think I hopefully taken other people’s opinions and thoughts before I put in my own. I had a really bad habit of that. And I think my world’s view has opened up. Again, I work for a company that’s based Barnsley, England which is in the North, closer about two hours away from Scotland and just working with them and working with Podcasters all over the world and Sparenuers all over the world now, that you see just how much we’re the same and how much we’re different. So, that’s changed and it’s also given me access to so many close friendships that have been tremendously important for the past couple of years.

ALEXANDER LAURIN: Do you have any advice for someone who’s maybe not so technical and want to get their podcast started? There seems to be so many great tools. Can you suggest for them to get some mentorship or to go out on their own? Do you have any advice for that person who’s on the fence?

RAMONA RICE: Mentorship was the one thing that made the difference between my podcast group and persons in the other. So, I see so many Podcasters. I had the luck of not knowing what I was doing. And what I mean by that is, I literally when I went to that conference in April 2015, I didn’t know what a podcast was, I didn’t know what the app was on my iPhone that they had shown me. They had to show me how to download because I didn’t know and in six weeks, I had a show that was featured on the front page of Bloggedtick radio because Jay Soderberg had discovered me and I get to work with him and I get to work with Mark Asquif and then I got to go to the girls that Podcast, I got to work with them. And so I started to really work with all these great people all the while doing my own thing because I was doing Sport show. So, I would record it and then an hour later, I would have to have it on the air because sports changes so quickly. So you learn very quickly how to turn around and I didn’t worry about the things like: “Uhms”, “ands”, “buts”. You know? That sort of thing. I didn’t worry about necessary sound quality probably the way I should. But that’s ok. I didn’t let the tech and the way and I think too often Podcasters because they listen to highly produced shows or they listen to a show like a John lee Davis or a Pat Flynn or Marc Maron and they’re like: “Oh, I want my show to sound like that.” What they don’t realize is that these guys have been doing it four years now. So you’re show can’t sound like that unless you’re a professional broadcaster. So you’re going to have to get through your shows. The best podcasting advice I’ve ever heard was Roman Mars, at a podcast movement 2015 when he said: “If you don’t hate your first ten episodes, you’re doing it wrong.” And I think that’s advice everybody needs to start listening to that you can listen to a new podcast today and talking to today, and its light years better than it was in 2015. And it will be light years better four years from now. It’s just the way this goes, you have to put in the hours and the time. So, stop worrying about the microphones, stop worrying about which mixer, or which host, they’re all pretty good. I like the one I work with, podcast websites. If you have technical issues and you don’t want to handle any of that, you can certainly go with us. We’re all in one, we’re going to handle all that stuff for you. Or, you can go with Libsyn, they’ve got great customer service than Pod Bean, but the point is, start. I think you’re not going to learn until you actually press record and you start talking. And you’re going to hate your first couple episodes. I cannot listen to the first 25 episodes of Sports Gal Pal, without cringing. It makes me almost nauseous to listen to now. But I’m really proud of those episodes because they got me to where I am today.