Everyone seems to be talking about podcasting these days. But is podcasting right for you?
As an Indie author, you’re already busy producing books and handling all of the marketing. Just take it all in for a moment.
- There’s your website to maintain.
- Your blog to update regularly.
- Comments you leave on other blogs.
- The guest posts you write for other blogs.
- Your social media accounts that help you build your platform.
- The blog tours you organize.
- The endorsements you secure for the back cover of your books.
- The newsletter you have to publish every month.
The list can be exhausting.
I chose to follow this path because I feel it’s important to integrate as many forms of media as we can into our content marketing strategy.
The Rise of Podcasting
Kevin Roose, writing for Forbes, said, “We’re in a golden age of podcasting.”
Why is it occurring now? Many say it’s because of the widespread use of smartphones and connected cars.
Just as people are increasingly forgoing cable subscriptions for streaming Netflix, people are turning to the intimacy and interruption-free programming of the podcast.
According to WPVirtuoso.com, Apple recently surpassed 1 billion subscriptions to podcasts.
Michael Wolff, also writing for Forbes, wrote that there are nearly 250,000 unique podcasts in existence.
That number may seem high but not when you compare it to the 152 million blogs on the Internet. What this means is that there is far less competition in the podcasting realm than there is on the blogosphere.
It seems that while the public’s interest in podcasting is rising, readership of blogs is declining. When I researched this on Google Trends, I was surprised by the graphs I discovered.
The first graph tracks the rise in podcast listeners.
This second graph tracks the declining interest in reading blogs.
I am not saying that you should stop blogging and start podcasting. I am saying that right now is a good time to get your message heard through podcasting.
Each form of media helps you to reach new audiences. I find that my podcast listeners tend to be people who don’t have time to sit at their computers to read blogs but do have time to listen to podcasts as they travel on subways or prepare dinner.
Content marketing has always been critical to platform building. Your first book was like the first brick to your platform foundation. Blogging and social media provided further support and now there’s a fairly new type of brick available: podcasting.
I say fairly new because podcasting has been around for ten years.
I’ve only had a podcast since January, yet my book sales have already increased. Even a deaf writer discovered my podcast before he’d ever read my blog. In fact, he sent me an email asking whether I had show notes for the podcast. I directed him to my Friday blog posts, which are the scripts for my podcast.
My Journey into Podcasting
My journey began in August when I traveled to Atlanta to attend a workshop with Ellen Britt and Denise Wakeman. It was an intimate workshop, and I came away completely enthused.
Then the hard work began.
First, I defined my audience and the goal for my podcast. I also decided that my podcast would air weekly and that I would keep the episodes to no longer than 15 minutes.
Then, over the next several months I created:
- an editorial calendar for my first 25 podcast episodes.
- a logo and an episode graphic element.
- a template for my scripts.
- a template for my show notes.
- a landing page for my podcast.
- a marketing plan.
- my intro and outro copy.
- a survey (using Survey Monkey) to find out what topics my audience wanted me to cover in the upcoming episodes.
In addition, I:
- purchased equipment, tested the equipment, and then bought new equipment.
- purchased my intro and out trial music from Audio Junkie.
- purchased and installed Smart Podcast Player on my website to enable me to stream my podcast with my show notes.
- learned how to use Audacity for recording and editing my episodes.
The equipment that I finally settled on included the following:
- Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone
- Tour Grade Tripod mic stand with boom TGMC66 (I purchased this from a local audio store that musicians rely on.)
- A pop filter (I also purchased this from a local audio store for musicians.)
Next, I had to select an RSS feed to host my podcast episodes. Some people use Blubrry while others use SoundCloud or Libsyn. After reading a number of blog posts and having several conversations with the folks at Libsyn, that’s the RSS feed I chose to use.
I began marketing my podcast at the beginning of December and my goal was to publish it by January 8, 2015. I think I missed the deadline by a couple of days.
My next challenge was getting reviews. It’s vitally important in the early days after releasing a podcast to secure five reviews. I was able to get them in one weekend.
In the month of February, 600 people downloaded my podcast. Those numbers can’t compare to the popularity of Tim Ferris or Copyblogger’s shows, but I was stoked.
Is podcasting easy? Not at all. I had many frustrating moments. The first mic I purchased, a condenser mic, was horrible.
I initially purchased desktop stands, but they didn’t work for me.
Finding Your Voice through Podcasting
Then there was my voice. I learned that just as writers find their voice through the stories they write, podcasters find their voice through the recordings they make.
I rerecorded my initial eight episodes at least four times. It took me a while to discover my tempo, learn to communicate my enthusiasm and get accustomed to the technology while recording.
You see, I didn’t have a team. I couldn’t just make a recording and hand it off to a sound specialist. I couldn’t just ask a graphic artist to develop my logo and do the marketing for me.
As an Indie author, I had to learn every aspect of it. I had to execute every step I took.
Finally, there was another obstacle for me to surmount. This one was deeply personal one.
Stuttering and Podcasting
As a child, I had a horrific stuttering problem. I could not utter one sentence without stuttering several words.
Consequently, I was a quiet child. I was happiest when I was curled up in a chair reading books all day. After all, it wasn’t much fun having to talk and listen to people make fun of me.
It was especially embarrassing when people would finish my words and sentences for me. You can’t imagine the humiliation when people try to speak for you.
So podcasting became another speech challenge for me. I rarely stutter or stammer now – only occasionally when I am utterly exhausted or extremely nervous – but it can crop up on rare occasions and the fear is always there.
So this is how I decided to handle the stuttering and stammering problem.
In my very first episode, I told my listeners about my stuttering problem, and I warned them that they might hear me stammer in some of my episodes.
At the end of the first episode, I prided myself on not having stammered in a lighthearted way. Now, whenever I stammer, I don’t stop recording or erase those parts of the broadcast. Instead, I might giggle a little and make fun of myself and then move on. After all, it is kind of funny when people try to say two or three words in a certain order but then reverse them instead.
It provides for comical moment.
What I discovered through podcasting is that we can’t constantly be correcting ourselves or redoing everything until are broadcasts are without a single flaw. None of my episodes are perfect, but my listeners don’t seem to mind.
If I had a crew helping me, then perfection might be a realistic goal. But I’m an Indie author and you know how that goes.
If you want to venture into the world of podcasting, have fun with it. You may not buy the right mic the first time, but that’s okay. You might go through one or two pop filters until you find the perfect one, but that’s okay. You might stammer a bit as you record your initial episodes, but that’s okay too.
You’ll find that your audience is forgiving. They know you’re human, and they know you’re trying and that’s all any of us can do.
Podcasts Topics for Authors
So what should you podcast about? Well, that depends on how you answer these questions:
- Who are you trying to reach?
- What is the demographics of your readership?
- What is the goal of your podcast?
If you write nonfiction books, then deciding your focus for the podcast is fairly easy. Emphasize your podcast on educating your readership and your listeners on the niche you write about.
If you write young adult and new adult books, you’re in luck. Half of all podcast listeners are between the ages of 12 and 34 years of age. (Source: wpvirtuoso.com) You might want to focus your podcast on storytelling – both the stories you write and stories your colleagues write.
Say that your novels are always about vampires. Maybe you want your podcast to focus on vampires, vampire lore, and other writers who include vampires in their novels.
Maybe you want to help other writers improve their craft. You could interview editors, agents and other experts in the field to provide you and your listeners with information about writing.
How you decide to focus your podcast will depend on your readership, your interests, your passion, and your niche. Choose your topic carefully, query your audience, test the waters and go for it.
Frances Caballo is a Contributing Writer for The Book Designer. She is also an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. Click here to receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers.
You can learn more about how to connect with Frances, including how to subscribe to her podcast, here.