Podcasting is growing in popularity as a tool to help market your business and position yourself as an expert. Lovetoknow business writer Debbie LaCroix had the opportunity to interview Kelly about what it means to be a Podcaster.
Kelly McCausey, Podcaster
When Kelly McCausey began her work from home journey, she had no idea podcasting was in her future. She started working from home in 2002 with the intention of going into desktop publishing, however, she had more inquiries about the website she developed to advertise her services, than the actual services. Soon desktop publishing turned into web publishing.
Through networking and getting to know other work from home moms, Kelly soon came across Internet Radio, now more commonly known as Podcasting. Kelly quickly developed a passion for listening to Internet radio, and developed her own podcast which later became one of the most popular work from home podcasts on the Internet. Over 1200 listeners tune in weekly to hear Kelly's interviews and advice.
Kelly took time out of her busy schedule to share tips on how podcasting can benefit your business.
Kelly, Why Did You Begin Working From Home?
I started to work at home in 2002, I was in debt up to my eyeballs, working full time. I loved my job, but there wasn't very much money, so I was running a deficit every single week. I was not only in debt, I couldn't hardly pay a penny towards paying any of it off.
How Did You Discover Podcasting?
I met someone who asked me to do a graphic, and they had a mailing list. One thing led to another and I fell head over heels in love with work at home moms. The next year was really a blur!
I discovered Internet radio, I found a program I loved, and right after I got done listening to all the archives it went off the air and I was crushed.
I thought "What am I going to listen to now?" I sort of fell in love with audio, and someone suggested maybe I should start an Internet radio show, and the rest was history.
Work at Home Moms Talk Radio (wahmtalkradio.com) launched in November 2003 and has been fantastic ever since!
How Did You Train Yourself?
Kelly said that there wasn't much information on Internet Radio when she first started her research:
The learning curve was huge. When I launched my program, I was looking for information on how to make audio available on the web, I had a really hard time.
There were no sites out there on how to create a radio Internet show, the people who were doing Internet Radio were associated with a large network. Everything was being done for them and they were spending a lot of money.
There were a few do-it-yourselfer forums for that, but they were talking a language I didn't understand. I didn't know how to ask the right questions in order to get the right answers. It was such a confusing time. So it was literally just by digging and scraping and scratching I finally was able to take an audio file that I had recorded and play it online. I remember feeling like "Oh man I need to have a party!"
Things changed so much with podcasting almost immediately. There were dozen of sites telling you how to podcast. It leveled the playing field.
What is the Difference Between Podcasting and Internet Radio?
Internet Radio is making an audio available to listen to online, you are streaming it to them which means they are not actually downloading it.
Podcasting, is making a media file available for download via an RSS feed.
The only difference is the delivery.
How Did You Create Your Show?
Initially, the program I had been listening to was not specifically for work from home moms. They were talking about business, but they would occasionally have a work from home mom on as a guest. I lived for those segments. I loved to hear other people talking. Someone suggested: "Why don't you go ahead and create a program just for us?"
Deciding how to define the program was a little more challenging.
Kelly recommends asking yourself:
- What will my program be about?
- What will the flavor be?
- What are my objectives for the program?
What was Your Objective?
My objective was to create a community-based program to be a voice that any work at home mom could listen and get something from it. Or any work from home mom could come and be on the show and share their history, their experience, their tips, and so I just kind of came up with my own flavor, my own theme and I've pretty much stuck with that over the years. It's a down to earth program.
How Can You Use Podcasting as a Marketing Tool?
Podcasting is another way to reach your target market. It is a lead generation tool, it is a way to establish yourself as an expert.
In order to reach your target market you need to reach them everywhere that you possibly can.
You cannot just build a website and expect everybody to show up. You know you have to get out there and get the word out. You have to advertise, you have to put your website in directories, you have to do offline things to promote your website.
A podcast is considered another element of your marketing.
What are Some Other Ways to Benefit from Podcasting?
Maybe you should focus some of your advertising on sponsoring an existing podcast that already has a nice growing audience.
Not every mom has the gift of gab, not every mom is in love with the sound of her own voice, like most podcasters are, so focus on doing what you love best and put a little of your ad budget into supporting podcasting.
What Have You Learned Over Your Years as a Podcaster?
I've learned that you learn a lot by doing. If I were to go back and listen to a few of my first programs, I would just want to cry, I'd be embarrassed. There are things that you don't know are wrong until you hear it played back, or until someone gives you constructive feedback. So I've learned a lot from mistakes that I was making.
- Listen to your podcasts and evaluate yourself
- Recognize your mistakes
- Ask friends to critique your voice and help you identify your habits such as "I know's", "umms," and "I sees". "I really appreciate that kind of feedback and feel every podcaster should have a few brave friends who will give constructive feedback.
- Make sure your program is easy to listen to
- Take good care of your listeners
- Make sure you have good sound quality
Kelly continues: Those are the kinds of things I think I've learned the most, pay attention, listen to your own voice, listen to your own programs, correct those things needing improvement. If you have to put a sticky note on your computer screen to remind you "don't say that," that would be a good thing.
Will I have to invest $1000 to Start Podcasting?
All you really need is an audio acrobat account and a good microphone. I like the Plantronics BSP 500, BSP 550, current model.
Kelly also recommends:
- Audio Acrobat
- A good quality in-line audio patch for those who plan to record phone conversations
- Audacity, if you plan to do a lot of phone interviews
Kelly explained that you don't need to start out with a huge investment. "You can step it right up and spend a few thousand, but you don't have to initially."
How Can You Create an Income Podcasting?
Wahmtalkradio has become a cornerstone of my business. I did for many years make a pretty decent amount of money from selling sponsorships on my program; and what I mean is between $600 - $800 a month on sponsorship, but nobody is going to live off that. It's not a bad amount of income for how long it takes to do the program.
Wahmtalkradio has allowed me to establish myself as an expert in the WAHM community.
Kelly also makes an income from:
- Personal coaching
- Ebooks and informational products
- Affiliate programs
Kelly continued: But it is just like any other thing you would do online, just because it is a podcast doesn't mean it will automatically make you money.
How Do You Recommend Getting Started?
Do it! Get involved, find out how you should be involved in podcasting. There are a few levels I would recommend:
- First be a listener, study other people's programs. Take notes of what you like and don't like.
- Next, find a way to contribute to some podcasts. Be a guest and offer to contribute regular content.
- After you have experienced all of that and you feel that this is enjoyable, and you are getting feedback from people who said, "Wow I love to listen to you, I really enjoy you." Then go ahead and start your own podcast.
I mean, you can skip these 3 levels and go straight to being a podcaster but chances are you will probably blunder a little bit more than if you walk through those steps really naturally.
Any Final Words of Wisdom?
Just get your feet wet. You really don't know until you get there and you are doing it. The thing is so many people have an idea of what they think people want from them, but when they start doing it they realize "no that really is not it at all", so take it slow.