Podcasting Tips From A Professional Reaching 100 Episodes!
By Heidi Higgins, K12 On Learning Podcast Host
I never expected to be a podcaster. But, two years along the path, and 100 episodes later, I can say that I have fallen in love with podcasting! Sending my voice to Apple, Google, and Spotify for the world to hear has forced me to face fears, and it has opened doors I may have never experienced otherwise. To be honest, the whole “world” has not heard my voice, but quite a few have, and I thought I would share five things I have learned while on this adventure of podcasting.
#1: Don’t underestimate the importance of research, as a podcaster.
Every aspect of this new media came with the need to learn more. Ordering a recommended microphone needed to be done AFTER consideration of my room environment, size, and budget. I had a surprise when the condenser microphone recommended on most podcast guides made my voice sound like I was in a tin can, far away. Not only that, but I could also hear my neighbor mowing his lawn and the clock ticking from the downstairs bedroom! Seriously, it picked up EVERYTHING. More research was needed.
Selecting recording and editing software must also fit the computer type and capacity, when you are a podcaster. It was a dark day (I have had a few of these) when I lost an episode in which I had invested HOURS of my time, with deadlines on top of me, only to discover that my computer equipment could not handle the load. More research was certainly needed. And, I found that an RSS feed, which stands for “Really Simple Syndication,” was anything but simple. It was back to researching how it worked, and how to find the best providers for the most reasonable costs. It took research and effort to learn the requirements of artwork, copyrights for music, and recommended length, too. If you want to get into podcasting, I highly recommend you do your research.
#2: Listen to podcasts, as you strive to become a podcaster.
If you want to be a podcaster, you should know what a podcast sounds like. The variety is surprising and imaginative. Some have music interludes, some use sound effects, some share conversations between friends. Some podcasts are in story form, some make you laugh, and others will scare you. But, all offer ideas and formats you may not have considered.
Many podcasts have guests, some offer a panel of opinions, some are only about politics, humor, or gaming. In listening to hundreds of episodes, I have discovered that I enjoy listening to ones that make me have that “ah-ha moment” and offer me thoughts and ideas to make my life better. I have been a motivational speaker and marketer for decades. And, I decided to reinvent my abilities, as a podcaster, to address families directly to make life while schooling at home easier. I decided to be that voice for those who feel alone in the process.
#3. Guests like it when you are prepared, as a podcaster.
Preparing an outline, making a list of questions, and sending the questions to guests beforehand make the conversations easier to handle, and so much easier to edit. A surprise question often has filler sounds, like ‘ums’ and ‘ahhs,’ and editing becomes more challenging. Sending questions in advance allows the guest to make suggestions of questions they might want you to ask. The questions and outline have been critical for me, so that I can think about what I am going to say.
Editing my own voice patterns has been very insightful for me, as a podcaster. The solution for me was to search the words I was using with on online thesaurus, and print a list of words to have ready, so I could add a variety of responses and sound interested instead of bored.
Exploring each guest’s background also helped me to discover some hidden gems for conversations, which were so much more interesting than the topics I was specifically looking for initially. It is wise to work ahead, as well, in case a guest cannot make it. Book your guests months ahead, if possible, as this gives time to prepare, research, communicate your questions, and have backups in place.
#4: Find many ways to market episodes, as a podcaster, so they can be widely heard.
This has been the most challenging part for me. Audiograms and quote art posted on Facebook have been my primary means of promotion. It is not enough for the average podcaster. Boosting expands reach, but it comes with a cost, and funds are not always available. Once again, I am having to do more research. Guests often offer promotion on their channels. Searching Facebook Groups, blogs, or communities of people interested in your specific genre can also be of great help. The podcast process must include this crucial step for there to be success. Out of the blue one day, I was invited to share my episodes to a specific group consisting of 40,000 families. What a difference this is making. Find many ways to promote.
#5: It takes time to find success, as a professional podcaster.
I teach an enrichment class all about how to begin the podcast process. One of the students in my class asked me, “What happens if I am into this a month or two and no one listens?” It was challenging to answer. My experience has taught me that this is not a “Field of Dreams” process, where if you build it, they will come. It takes time for a show to get listeners.
There are 2.9 million podcasts out there, as of this writing. Each had a beginning. Some are very successful. Some stop before the 10th episode. It is a learning process. I am convinced that if the topics are sound, the podcast offers solutions or support, and the episodes are consistent and promoted, you will find an audience. It just takes time, and consistency.
To date, my little podcast, K12 On Learning, is ranked globally in the top 10% by ListenNotes. This means that each episode has had over 2,500 downloads. Others have much more, but it is a process. I can’t compare, or I will get distracted. Just keep going. Stay encouraged. Keep a list of reasons to continue. Keep learning how to find more audiences and topics that will address them. Keep on asking good questions. Search for guests that will interest, excite, and encourage listening.
In these two years, I have learned that I can do research and be consistent. I can be patient. I can keep on being excited about what I do, and I can keep on learning. My journey is just beginning. So, Happy 100th Episode for the K12 On Learning podcast!
About Heidi Higgins
Two years ago, the pandemic forced Heidi Higgins to change her marketing and speaking career. An opportunity to create and host the podcast, K12 On Learning, reinvented her talents and has allowed her reach to grow exponentially. For twenty years, she has worked for Stride K12, where she currently collaborates with the content and social media team, to support families and local K12-powered schools. She regularly shares important tips and insights about learning from home. Heidi enjoyed eight years as a Learning Coach for her three youngest children, using the Stride K12 curriculum. She now has grandchildren in K12-powered schools, as well. Heidi lives in Idaho, is married, the mother of six, and has 16 grandchildren.
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