There's a lot of talk about what you should be doing and often when a new marketing channel comes along everyone wants to tell you how you NEED to be on it. Podcasting has been one of those things I've noticed this last year where EVERYONE has one and EVERYONE tells you how you need one too. Who knows, maybe you do.
I asked my two very favorite podcasters, Meighan O’Toole of What’s Your Story and Dave Conrey of FreshRag.com to talk about all of the hard work that goes into it and also why one might be good for makers.
There is also this really great podcast by Sandy of The Crafty Planner where she also talks with fellow podcaster Abby Glassenberg about the behind-the-scenes of their podcasts. Take a listen.
Q: Introduce yourself, your business and tell us a little about your podcast including how long you've been at it.
Meighan: My name is Meighan O’Toole and I work with and train creative individuals, brands, and companies in social media, content creation, and overall strategy to help define, and build their presence online.
My podcast is called What’s Your Story, an interview style podcast where I sit down with creative individuals and chat with them about their path, both personal and professional experiences. It’s been online for a year, I started it on July 1st, 2014. Prior to that I ran another podcast in 2011 for about a year.
Dave: I’m Dave Conrey, and I run FreshRag.com, which is the home of The Fresh Rag Show—The no BS, straight-talk approach to earning more from your creative pursuits. Each week, I talk with different personalities in the creative business world, artists, designers and makers, to have them share their stories of success in order to help others do the same.
Although the numbering system got a little messed up when I rebranded the show, I currently have over 140 episodes total in just over two years.
Q: Why did you start your podcast? Did you have any kind of business angle that was part of the reason you started it?
Meighan: I started my podcast because I absolutely love to learn about how people came to be where they are in their lives both professionally and creatively. Community is incredibly important to me, and I think we can all learn from each other's experiences -- both positive and negative. So, I wanted to create an intimate show where I get to talk to people who are doing great and interesting things. I wanted to also wanted to discuss topics that I thought other creative people would really love to hear about, and learn from. The bottom line of my podcast is to inspire creative people that need that extra push. I want others to see even the most successful, creative people have all had a path to tread. No one is alone in their story, and I think it’s important to create community around those shared experiences.
I really missed my old podcast, and wanted to find a way to start a new one for my current business. To be honest, I didn’t have any business goals when I started WYS. Which, I see now was not smart. So my goals have evolved and the show has changed a lot over the past year -- which I am sure has been confusing for some of my first listeners.
Dave: I had an itch to start doing podcasts many years ago, even went as far as buying my first microphone, but the technology back then hadn’t quite gotten to the user friendly stage I needed yet. Jump ahead to 2013, and after listening to other business owners on their own shows, I knew that I could do the same. I’ve always felt like I’ve had a good presence on the microphone, and after hearing myself after my first few episodes, I was hooked.
I can’t say I had a particular business angle at the time I created the show, but looking back at it now, it seemed like a natural progression of what I was already doing. I also knew that I could do it better than a lot of people in my same niche, and could easily set myself apart.
Q: What's been the biggest surprise about starting a podcast?
Dave: That the stories of people making big money from their podcasts are largely false. A very small contingent of people are making living wages just from their shows, and unless your name is Adam Carolla, you’re likely not one of those people.
Meighan: I think the biggest surprise is how huge podcasting has gotten in the past year. It’s been really fascinating to be a part of an exploding medium.
On a more technical level, I think something I never seem to stop being surprised by is how easy it is to get really obsessive around editing out vocal tics. Which in all honesty is a total waste of time, because people are not paying as much attention to your voice as you think they are. And if they are, they are either not your demographic or maybe you need to tighten up your interview style. I have had to deal with all of the above, and I have grown immensely as a podcaster and an interviewer. That brings me to another surprise: you can always get better with your show through editing, interviewing more effectively, better production etc.
Q: What kinds of time and financial investments have you made into making it happen?
Meighan: I heavily edit my podcast, so I dedicate about 10-12 hrs a week to editing down the interview to really pull out the best of the best segments, adding music interludes, and recording an intro. I’ve also invested in a Blue Yeti Mic, and recording and editing equipment.
Dave: The time effort is almost immeasurable, because sometimes I’m thinking about my show at random times—how I could improve, who I could have on, and what should I talk about next time around. The actual time involved on each episode has gotten shorter than it was when I started, but that’s largely from more experience doing the work.
As far as money, I dare not say, but from equipment alone, it’s definitely over a thousand dollars, maybe closer to two thousand, just on studio equipment. Most people who want to get started don’t need that kind of investment right off, but over time, if you want to improve the sound quality to appear more polished and professional, you’ll need better equipment.
Q: How do you quantify if your podcast is successful or not and how does it, if at all, relate to your business?
Meighan: I pay attention to downloads, mentions on social media, and reviews. Those are the areas I concentrate on. I track my stats on Libsyn, and I actively ask people to leave reviews. I often get emails from women telling me that they related to a specific show, or that they value the show -- which means so much to me. I thank them and then ask them politely to leave what they wrote a as a review for the show. It may sound gauche but we live in such a noisy space around content it’s important to advocate for your show and let people know these little things like reviews and letting a friend know really make a difference if you’ll be around long term.
Dave: I have one metric that I measure the success of my show by. Did I change someone’s life today with my episode? Did I help them do their job better? If so, then it was a success. The way that relates to my business is simply through trust. When I do the kind of work I’m meant to do, and come through with information that both educates and entertains, then those listeners are more apt to listen when I tell them I have a new book for sale.
Q: What advantages does podcasting provide your business over other media?
Dave: If I tried to do my job just through blog posts, or social media, the intensity, passion and determination wouldn’t come through. On the podcast, they can hear how much conviction I have for something, but that’s hard to convey fully in a blog post. The podcast gives my voice the depth needed to properly express my points of view.
Meighan: It’s a great addition to everything else I do - consulting, workshops, weekly newsletter, speaking engagements, and blog posts. It’s this very dynamic piece of content that allows people an opportunity to really get to know me. I get to talk about topics in a much more personal way, and at the same time share information around my expertise that is just way more accessible through a conversation. Plus, I get to bring a guest in and have a conversation that flows in an emotional way that people relate to. It can be really powerful.
Q: Compare podcasting to say the time and energy of a blog post. What are the differences in effort and what are the differences in payoff?
Meighan: Podcasting allows you as a person to really let your personality and expertise shine in a way that written content does not. You get to hear someone’s personality. Passion really comes through -- and it’s just easier to explain something verbally than to write it out. I feel like I can be way more personal on my podcast, whereas if I was like that in every blog post, it might come across as too earnest.
Dave: A blog post is far, far less time consuming, typically. A podcast episode, start to finish will take me several hours to put together, sometimes over several days. From the time it takes to invite and convince someone to be on my show, to the actual interview, recording the intro and outro bits, and then putting it together online for everyone to enjoy; you’re talking 4 to 6 hours. I could write a ten 1,000 word blogs posts in that time.
The difference in payoff is again the trust. Anyone can write a 1,000 word blog post, but to get a podcast on the air, that takes a little doing, and when your voice is in people’s ears, that builds a rapport you can’t match on a blog post or in social media.
Q: What goes into your show that no one knows about?
David: More “ums” than anyone will ever know.
Meighan: I edit heavily and do a ton of research. I’ll interview someone from anywhere to an hour to an hour and half, and sometimes the actual show will only be anywhere from 25 - 45 minutes long. So a lot is left on the cutting room floor so to speak.
Q: Do you monetize your podcast in any way? If so, how?
Meighan: Not currently, but it is a goal of mine to have sponsors in the future.
David: Indirectly, I offer up my various products and services through the podcast, but I do not have any sponsors. However, beginning in September 2015, I’m adding crowdfunding support through Patreon.
Q: So, bottom line, do you think a podcast is worth doing for makers?
Meighan: I think if it is something that someone wants to try because they have a real interest in talking to someone else, than absolutely yes. I say that because there is so much time and energy that goes into podcasting, and because it is such a crowded landscape you really have to love doing it to make it worthwhile.
David: My personal opinion is that there are few ways to really connect with like minded individuals on the subjects we’re passionate about. With podcasting, you can become a near instant authority in your given topic, and it will bring new people to your work that may have never found you before.
There are other ways to get yourself online in long form, like Periscope, Youtube, and others; but with a podcast, people take you with them places. They want you in their morning commute, out for a walk, or working out at the gym. That’s hard to do with other mediums.
I would never tell anyone to not start a podcast; but if anyone is interested, keep in mind that it’s a considerable investment in both money and time. You will spend a lot to get the podcast out. However, if you go after it, and do the necessary things to create solid, valuable content that entertains, you will gain a legion of listeners who will sing your praises.
Q: Where can people find you online?
Meighan: People can find me at meighanotoole.com, and everywhere on social media at @meigsotoole, except Twitter which is just @meigs.
Thanks Meighan and Dave! Do you have a podcast? Are you interested in starting one? Do you think they're a good marketing tool for makers? Let us know in the comments!