an interview with Melvin Varghese ph.d., the creator of the selling the couch podcast
In 2024 the growth in podcast listeners is expected to be at 504.9 million.
That's why podcasting has become one of the favorite channels for marketers and entrepreneurs. For therapists, it's an ideal medium for bringing awareness to mental health, helping people with their problems, and establishing a strong therapy brand for your private practice.
Melvin Varghese's podcast Selling the Couch is one of the most listened-to podcasts in the private practice space with over 1.5 million downloads and listeners in over 125 countries. Suffice it to say, Melvin is an expert when it comes to starting and growing your podcast.
And now, he's teaching therapists how to do it as well. I'm very thankful to Melvin for generously agreeing to share his experience with podcasting.
so Melvin, how did you come up with the idea for your own podcast?
The short version is this, I was grabbing a shower thinking about the word couch in the name. I knew that I wanted to use it as I had been playing around with a couple of words for the previous few days before that. And then, the word selling just came up as I was taking a shower and I thought "I wonder if dot com's available."
I literally grabbed my towel and ran out and that's how the name came about.
But the longer version is, I was in a group private practice and I had two colleagues that became really good friends of mine. We would meet once a month just to have conversations about business because all of us wanted to start our own, either our own practices or our own small businesses in some kind of way. We would read a chapter out of a book by Lyn Grodsky, for example, or watch a YouTube video on marketing or social media.
And I just began to wonder over time if there were other therapists that needed this information and that simple thought was where the idea for the podcast came from.
I picked the medium of podcasting because I felt that for me as a therapist, it catered to all my strengths the ability to have conversations with people the ability to talk deeply about a topic, and all of those things.
You've recorded over 300 episodes of your own podcast. What has been the most important feedback from your listeners so far?
So anytime I get these reviews or these personal notes I just feel so grateful to be able to do this work.
The first feedback is just the personal connection and the notes that I get. My listeners feel a personal connection to me as a human even though I've never met the vast majority of the folks that are listening to the podcast.
And then there's this gratitude of how the interviews, the solo episodes, or the coaching calls we've done have helped them to become better business owners and practitioners.
But also, I think a lot about how that clinical skill set can be used in other realms, of launching courses and podcasts and all of these different things. I think that the most significant have actually been the notes that I get about the ways that people have changed at a personal level. They've become more courageous or they have done things that they would have never imagined. And that has been just the most gratifying part.
"I picked the medium of podcasting because I felt that as a therapist, it catered to all my strengths the ability to have conversations with people the ability to talk deeply about a topic and all of those things."
Why do you think it's important for therapists to create a podcast of their own?
Man, this could be a whole, whole thing...
So the very first thing is, I had somebody once mention, "Mel, you realize, in this day and age of the internet and social media, and the way things are going, we as business owners are essentially media companies."
Now I'm a psychologist, so the first time I heard that I was like, "No, I am not. I'm not a social media company, I'm not doing that."
But the more I began to think about it I saw so much wisdom in what was said. This world of the internet and social media affords us the ability to reach a larger audience while doing work and creating content from home or a home office or an office, anywhere.
The second reason is, I feel that podcasting is the ultimate Swiss army knife for growing a business and growing personally.
So, what I mean by that is, one, you can use podcast interviews to expand your professional network. You can also do solo episodes to build trust and authority and share the products and services that you offer.
And last, you can use it to move toward thought leadership. If you've got a book or an online course in your future, or if you want to do more paid talks, you already have a platform, right?
Let's say you want to write a book. If you already have a podcast, you have a distribution medium that's already built in so you're not having to rely on other people.
It's also what I call decentralized distribution. So for example, when you post on LinkedIn or YouTube, you're always at the mercy of that algorithm. Sometimes the algorithm favors you, and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes you put all this work into content and it just doesn't do well. And you're like "What in the world?"
"When you post on LinkedIn or YouTube, you're always at the mercy of that algorithm. Sometimes the algorithm favors you, and sometimes it doesn't."
So It probably has something to do with that algorithm. But with podcasts, you're the host on what's called the hosting service. You're distributing it to all of these different places, Apple Podcasts, Google, Spotify, and all of these different places.
But you're not at the mercy of those algorithms. So once it's distributed, it's distributed, and from there, those download numbers just kind of keep increasing.
And then the final thing I would say, it's easier to repurpose your content. I'm learning this right now. Typically our podcast episodes are about 25 minutes long. And so, for example. If I do a solo one, I turn on the video as well.
And now I've got an audio solo session that I can distribute through my podcast. I've got a video that I can put on YouTube. Btw, YouTube literally last week announced that they're going to roll out video podcasts.
So basically you can simply turn on the video and you can share that video on YouTube. You can also take that same longer video and cut it into smaller video shorts as well. And then what I also do is turn them into threads or LinkedIn carousel posts or whatever it is.
Now I don't recommend doing all of that at the very beginning. I'm eight years in and have just started to think through a system.
But I think the potential to distribute content so you're working smarter versus harder is just, it's unparalleled.
What do you think prevents more healthcare providers from starting their own podcasts?
Probably three things.
The fear of tech.
The fear that no one's going to listen.
The fear of keeping it going. That there's going to be a lack of ideas that you can come up with.
It's all fears that I had and you know, with the tech, you can start very basic, through the free podcasting workshop.
Another fear is that no one will listen. That's a real fear as well.
But the real key thing is just to be consistent with it and all downloads are not equal. So it's actually very possible to have a very small number of downloads, but a very highly targeted audience and grow a very successful business.
And then the third fear is about keeping it going. How do you sort of come up with content over time? And I address all these fears in The Healthcasters course.
What's unique about your Healthcasters course?
Well, for starters, it's specifically built for therapists, and secondly, it's even more than that.
It's specifically built for therapists who are successful in private practice, but they want to now move to online income, specifically through courses.
They want their impact to be beyond just their geographic area. So these are the two unique things about it.
And obviously, since I'm a psychologist, the way that I've designed The Healthcasters course is with the mental health professional in mind.
Want to know more?
↗️ Check out Melvin's podcasting course, The Healthcasters https://sellingthecouch.com/jointhehealthcasters/