The Power of Podcasting to Market Your Writing
Bring your words off the page and into the world of podcasting to captivate a new audience.
Podcasting is still on the newer side of marketing tools, but it’s one of the very best ways to take things up a notch if you’re looking for new and different avenues to get your writing out there.
There are so many advantages to embracing this form of communication, including increased traffic to your blog or website, cross-promoting your work on multiple channels, and the unique quality of passive consumption (meaning potential readers can discover you and learn more about your writing when they’re doing things like driving or working out).
But these are just the tip of the iceberg.
Starting my sex and relationships podcast has been a much-needed anchor in the chaotic storm of 2020. It was a new creative outlet, a means of talking to the outside world about my writing, and a way to build a brand new set of skills.
A very particular set of skills… skills I have acquired over a very long podcast launch.
All Liam Neeson jokes aside, after taking months to research the ins and outs of starting a podcast and finally launching last month, I’m just about to release my fourth episode this week.
It’s been a wild ride, and one I would highly recommend for those looking to stand out in the oversaturated and competitive world of online writing.
Inspired By Isolation
There were times in 2020 when my inner extrovert felt so crushed, I would often turn to drinking alone and texting friends as a way to get even just a sense of socializing with others.
Honestly, I didn’t realize how extroverted I was until I couldn’t leave my house or see my friends for long periods of time during COVID-19 shutdowns, which are still very much going off and on in the state of Ohio depending on our case numbers.
As the pandemic crept in and dragged on for months, and we soon realized it was going to be a longer-term thing than anyone had anticipated, I started realizing just how extroverted I was. I do enjoy taking a lot of time alone to recharge, but I love being a social butterfly too.
When thinking about how else to address my creative and extroverted needs, podcasting wasn’t something I thought I’d ever seriously try. I’d always been interested in starting one — I loved listening to them — but before COVID-19, I spent my free time in the evenings doing community theater or writing, which didn’t leave room for other projects.
Once all the fun, creative, and extroverted things I’d once taken for granted were gone, I started getting increasingly restless and lonely. I kept listening to podcasts all the time as my friends and family remained socially distant. Then one day, it struck me — if I’m going to sit around wallowing in my isolated misery, feeling sorry for myself about not being able to do the things I loved, I needed to make my own fun.
The marketing power of introducing a listenership to my blog was just as appealing.
Where To Begin
Because of my love of listening, podcasting seemed like a natural extension of my extroverted wild side. But the process of starting one intimidated me. Not only setting everything up, but also just being confident in my personality and style of speaking on the mic.
In other words, I had a lot of work to do if I was going to create something that anyone would enjoy listening to.
I’m not exactly technology illiterate, but I knew basically zero about audio recording, audio editing, or podcast production. It was an intimidating project, especially because I knew how time-consuming it can get based on stories from other podcasters I enjoy listening to.
However ambitious as it was, I was ready to do something different. Something that allowed me to flex a new set of creative muscles and also take a break from reading and writing (something I do all day long for both my full-time and part-time jobs).
I bought the bare minimum of equipment I needed and started watching a lot of tutorials on editing with Audacity, a free audio software. I found Buzzsprout, a podcast hosting platform, for $18 a month. There are free platforms you can use and still put out just as great of a show, like Anchor or RedCircle, but Buzzsprout is user-friendly and offers a few extras, so I thought the added expense was a good tradeoff for what I wanted to accomplish.
I recorded my first episode five times. I had written notes, but I wanted to sound natural and went off script quite a bit. It took that many tries for me to just sound coherent enough to make some points. (Public speaking isn’t my strong point, and it’s something I knew this would help with.)
Then, I ended up throwing out that first introductory episode altogether. In the end, it really wasn’t necessary for the interview format I wanted my show to have.
But the experience of creating it was fantastic practice, and I started scheduling my interviews by approaching different writers I loved following online.
To my surprise, many accepted. It was time to start the show.
The Value of Speaking Out Loud
Hosting a podcast packs quite a punch in the way of new skills it will give you. And there are other advantages on top of that. Here’s a look at some of my personal top motivators.
1. The most effective and entertaining marketing tool
Some hosts are all about running their podcasts for the fun of it. They aren’t concerned with monetizing or marketing, but do it for the love.
As far as a creative outlet, I feel the same way. A massive part of the appeal is just having a great time with it. But I had another motivator: to use podcasting as an extension of my writing.
If I can build a loyal listenership who enjoys what I have to say and the topics I cover while interviewing some amazing and entertaining guests, they might get curious enough to check out my writing — which is always linked in the show notes.
There are a lot of great writers out there with compelling podcasts who are doing exactly what I do. But the key difference about podcasting is that it’s not as oversaturated as online writing. You can work on the quality of your podcast, including enhanced audio and host performance, and have a much easier time standing out and drawing potential readers to your work.
According to SmallBizGenius, about 144 million Americans listen to podcasts. That means roughly 51% of the U.S. population older than 12 have listened to a podcast at least once. That number of listeners has increased by 20 million since 2018, so the audience is constantly growing.
The same website shares that an estimated 750,000 podcasts existed on the web in 2019. That’s some powerful news for show hosts. There are a ton of potential listeners out there, and the space for podcasting still has room for newcomers.
Basically, the potential for podcasting success is incredible. If there was ever an opportune time to raise your voice on the waves — either for fun and as a means of creative expression, or as a way to drive traffic to your business or service — it’s now.
2. A new learning experience
Even if you don’t amass a huge following and make tons of money through advertisers or sponsors, there’s so much value to be had in the experience itself.
I didn’t know a thing about microphones, editing software, or podcasting platforms. I went in blind, and I’ve discovered that I really love voice work and audio editing. I love exploring new ways to improve the sound quality (like laying a music track over vocals), discovering technology and software that will help my sound files, and finding new hardware that will improve the audio from the get-go in my recording space.
And, if you have guests on the show, it’s a win-win for all involved. You’ll get the opportunity to ask the questions you want to know. You’ll learn from their expertise. You’ll have fun and discover new things about a topic you love. And, they’ll want to share your show, widening your reach.
The other learning point I knew podcasting would help me with? Becoming a more eloquent speaker. Writing is by far my strong point. It lets me have time to carefully craft what I want to say, to change my mind in the editing process, and to spend all the time I need getting my message across.
Not so when I’m discussing a project in real-time with a client or explaining a complex situation to my boss. I knew that by putting myself out there and either talking out loud to myself or interviewing others, I’d vastly improve my speaking skills. And I haven’t been disappointed in that endeavor either.
One of the most appealing things about my idea for a podcast was the format I wanted to pursue. I thought conducting interviews would be an amazing way to connect with others — and I haven’t been disappointed.
In fact, the talks I’ve shared with my guests have blown my expectations out of the water thus far. I’ve made some really special friendships and had wonderful and interesting conversations I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten to have, especially with the pandemic limiting the number of safe social activities.
Even podcast hosts who go solo and don’t have guests on the show have the opportunity to connect with others simply through their listeners. By sharing your social media, email, or website to listeners, you’ll open yourself up to new opportunities for dialogues with like-minded people who share your same interests.
Podcast It Up
Podcasts are free to listen to, and there are so many fun, funny, and informative ones out there on any number of niche topics. Go listen to what you love. Learn more about relationships, improving your anxiety, losing weight, or your favorite TV shows.
Podcasts are great motivators and can help you get through the most stressful traffic jams. They’re also great company during a workout or a walk.
They help us relieve the feeling of isolation.
And, if you have the urge to start one yourself, I’d highly recommend it. Though you can go all out with a mic and other recording equipment, you technically don’t have to spend much to get started. The cost of entry is extremely low compared to other hobbies or marketing tools. An inexpensive external mic, a computer, free editing software, and a quiet space is your bare minimum.
This past year has been a time of adjustment. We’ve had to turn to different ways of connecting, of working, of creating — and we were often alone. My podcast guests and listeners have been all that and more.
Originally published by Holly Bradshaw on Medium.com.