Author podcasting is hot. But is podcasting one more thing that you need to do now to succeed at selling your books?
But I tell you this: when I had a podcast, I sold more books.
I’m not going to try to talk you into podcasting. What I want to do is share my perspective and tips.
Interest in Podcasting Rises, Blogging Decreases
Kevin Roose, writing for Forbes, said, “We’re in a golden age of podcasting.”
Why is it occurring? 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 interruption-free programming of the podcast.
According to 9to5mac.com, Apple podcast platforms hit 50 billion downloads, and TechCrunch reported in June that there are now more than 550,000 current shows on iTunes.
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 while the readership of blogs is declining. When I researched this on Google Trends, I was surprised by the graphs I discovered.
I am not suggesting that you should stop blogging and start podcasting. I am saying that it’s a good time to get your message heard through podcasting.
Each form of media helps you to reach new audiences. I found that my podcast listeners tended to be people who didn’t have time to sit at their computers to read blogs but did have time to listen to podcasts as they traveled on subways or prepared 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 relatively new type of brick available: podcasting.
I say reasonably new because podcasting has been around for ten years.
My Journey into Author Podcasting
My journey began in August 2014 when I traveled to Atlanta to attend an intimate workshop with just six attendees. I left that workshop enthused.
Soon, 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 (1400 x 1400 pixels) and an episode graphic template.
- 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.
- Purchased equipment, tested the equipment, and then bought new equipment.
- I bought urchased 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 many blog posts and having several conversations with the folks at Libsyn, that’s the RSS feed I chose to use.
Once I uploaded my episodes to Libsyn, I set up an account with iTunes and applied to Stitcher.
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 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? Hardly. I had many frustrating moments. For example, the first mic I purchased, a condenser mic, was horrible.
I initially purchased desktop stands, but they didn’t work for me either.
Finding Your Voice through Author 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 re-recorded 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.
My Podcasting Lessons
What I discovered through podcasting is that we can’t always be correcting ourselves or redoing everything until our broadcasts are without a single flaw. None of my episodes were perfect, but my listeners didn’t seem to mind.
If I had a crew helping me, then perfection might have been a realistic goal.
Do you have the courage to venture into 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. Your readers know you’re human, and they know you’re trying, and that’s all any of us can do.
Ultimately, I gave up on podcasting. Here were my mistakes:
- I didn’t record enough episodesbefore I launched my podcast. I only had eight in the can, which I had to post when I launched so that people would be able to listen to more than one. Well, that’s the advice I received.
- I spent too much time editing my posts. (I spend about six hours recording and editing my episodes.)
- I didn’t have guests. At the time, I didn’t think I could attract good enough guests to the show to develop listeners. I shouldn’t have second guessed myself. When I started a webinar series years later, I easily attracted experts like Jane Friedman, Joel Friedlander, Joanna Penn, and Dave Chesson.
- I didn’t have the time to manage other people’s social media, manage my social media, write books, blog regularly, do email marketing, promote my books, and podcast. Something had to give in my life, and it was, unfortunately, the podcasting.
- I couldn’t invest six hours of my time every week in podcasting. I had too many other tasks I had to keep up with, and podcasting became a burden, unfortunately.
10 Podcasting Tips for Indie Authors
To succeed in podcasting as an Indie Author, follow my best tips.
- Podcasting can be anythingyou make it. It can be temporary. After Elizabeth Gilbert wrote Big Magic, shehad a short podcast to promote that book. I have a client who plans to do something similar.
- Write an editorial calendarfor at least 30 episodes.
- Record 20 to 30 episodesbefore you launch your podcast.
- You need a logoand ideally an episode graphic template. I ended up not using my episode graphic template, and I think that was a mistake.
- Create a template for your episode scripts. The template will save you time.
- Create a template for your show notes. The template will be used on your blog and appear as a blog post.
- On your website, create a landing page for your podcast. First, you’ll use this page to recruit listeners before you launch. Once you launch, this page will list all of your podcast episodes in one place.
- Have a marketing plan. Start marketing your upcoming show at least two months before you launch.
- Write and record your intro and outro copy. This way you won’t have to record it each time you record an episode.
- Before you launch, use Survey Monkey tofind out what topics your audience wants you to discuss.
Podcasting Topics for Authors
So what should you podcast about? Well, that depends on how you answer these questions:
- Whom are you trying to reach?
- What is the demographics of your readership and future listeners?
- What is the goal of your podcast?
If you write nonfiction books, then deciding your focus for the podcast is relatively easy. Emphasize your podcast on educating your readership and your listeners in 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.
Well written, well researched – well thought out. This book is a must have!
Author of this blog: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She wrote several social media books including Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, and finding new readers. Her clients have included authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for her free email course.
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