Over the past few months, I've discussed different platforms to help writers build their author platforms. These include Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. Today, I want to discuss another underrated social media platform that many writers aren’t taking advantage of - Podcasts.
Therefore, I wanted to invite my critique partner, T.L. Peterson onto the blog because she hosts a podcast entitled The Wicked Hour.
Note: This blog post will be styled as an interview.
J: Welcome to the blog!
T: Thanks! I’m happy to be here.
J: I know you’re a writer and you’re currently working on your debut novel, which is amazing by the way, but you also run a podcast so I wanted to ask you a couple of questions to help both me and other writers who might be thinking about starting our own podcast.
T: Thanks! I appreciate that.
J: What made you decide to use podcasting as a way to reach your audience on a different level?
T: What made me decide to start podcasting was I was starting to take my author platform a little more seriously and look for ways to do this best. When I did a little bit of research, it came down to YouTube or podcasting. Now, with YouTube I didn’t really feel comfortable in front of a camera, so I did a lot of research with podcasting and fell in love with the idea of doing a podcast because with a podcast I can put out the information I feel to be important in a way that’s comfortable for me. I got the idea for The Wicked Hour a couple of years ago and I started hammering out the details and now it is what it is today.
J: Before you actually sat down and started The Wicked Hour did you do any research about the type of equipment you would need, the initial setup, any graphics you would need to create, or the best way to reach your audience? What went into doing this in the beginning stages and was the setup hard or easy? What did you do to record your podcast and get it onto the different platforms?
T: When I finally decided that I wanted to do the podcast, I did a lot of research on the equipment I would need, what it entailed, and I read a ton of articles. I also looked at a ton of Pinterest pins and YouTube videos. Then, I narrowed it down. I knew I needed a good microphone. If you’re starting out, you don’t need an expensive microphone, but it does have to be good quality. You also need headphones, a laptop or computer, and a program that allows you to record. The program I use is Audacity. It’s a free program and a lot of podcasters use it. If you’re a Mac user, you may prefer to use GarageBand which is also a free program for Apple users.
When it comes to graphics, if you create a podcast then you need a graphic for that podcast. Personally, I went on Canva which is a free program and I designed my logo for the podcast myself. Also, it’s not necessary, but I created my own theme song for the opening of my podcast. I also wrote a little script about The Wicked Hour that played as the opening of each episode of my podcast. Now, I have changed this up, so if you listen to the beginning episodes of my podcast, you will notice that there are two different intros and outros. To design the music, I used GarageBand so there was nothing I needed to come out of my pocket for except for the cost of the microphone.
The first microphone I used was a random one I found that my fiancé bought me for my birthday but that one didn’t work so I sent it back and settled on a Blue Snowball mic. That one worked great! It was definitely a great little starter and wasn’t expensive at all. I think I paid maybe $30 or $40 bucks for it, but I have upgraded to the Blue Yeti and you will hear a lot of professional podcasters talk about the Blue Yeti because it’s one of the best microphones on the market. So, you don’t have to be extravagant right from the beginning, you can upgrade slowly.
The setup wasn’t hard either. Personally, you have to decide what platform you want to go through. I knew right away that I wanted to be on iTunes and Stitcher. You need an RSS feed which allows your podcast to update automatically on those platforms.
J: You said you designed your intro music yourself. Was it hard to find music to use? Did you use royalty free music? You also said the RSS feed allows your podcast to automatically upload to certain platforms. How would I go about getting that feed?
T: The setup of the music wasn’t hard at all, but it was time-consuming because I’m particular about what I want. I didn’t go to any royalty free sites. I used what was available on GarageBand. I went through the different sounds and setups they had and made it my own.
For me, I host my podcast through WordPress. So, I go in, create a podcast, and WordPress automatically creates a feed for me. Basically, you have to find a site to host your podcast and they will create your RSS feed for you. First, you determine what website you want to go through, create the RSS feed, and then take that RSS feed web address and paste it to the platforms that you decide to host your podcast on. Then, every time you upload a new episode of your podcast to that website (for me WordPress), they will upload that episode to the different platforms automatically.
J: I run my blog through Squarespace and I know they also have an option for podcasters. So basically, once we pick which website we want to host our podcast on, then that website will upload it automatically to a podcasting platform like iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play. Is that correct?
T: Yes. Essentially, all you have to do is setup your podcast, get the RSS feed and add it to the podcasting platform. For me, each time I record a new episode, I have to upload it to WordPress as a new blog post with an audio clip and it gets fed to the podcasting platform that way.
J: What are some of the pros and cons of starting a podcast?
T: There’s going to be pros and cons with everything. For me, a pro is that I put myself out there and am able to connect with a lot of people. A con is that podcasting still isn’t a big platform in the writing community. It’s slowly growing, but I think that’s one of the biggest cons. People don’t seem to think that podcasting is good for them or feel that they can’t get a lot of information from it. For me, it’s more convenient because you can’t watch YouTube while you’re driving but you can listen to a podcast during your morning commute.
J: I agree. That’s why I rely on podcasts a lot. Especially when I’m in the car driving. I know you mentioned earlier that you had to narrow it down between podcasting and starting a YouTube channel and that you chose to start a podcast because you weren’t comfortable in front of a camera. I’m the exact same way so podcasting seems like a great option for me. However, can you think of any other writers or authors that podcasting could be good for?
T: Podcasting is great for anyone that feels that they have a wealth of information to share. For me, it was perfect because I didn’t feel comfortable in front of a camera. Now, some people may decide to use YouTube, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, if you feel that you have a voice, and something you want to share and that this would be a great way to build your platform then definitely go ahead and do it. I would highly recommend it and I enjoy doing it and coming up with topic ideas. I definitely think it doesn’t hurt to try and if you try and decide it’s not for you then at least you tried. The same goes for YouTube- if you try it and it doesn’t work out, then at least you tried.
J: I know you’ve interviewed several authors on your podcast such as Kristen Martin and Jessi Elliott. How do you convince others to come onto your podcast? Has this been hard?
T: Deciding to add guests to the show was a huge step for me because I am introverted and find it hard to connect with a lot of people. But, I feel that it has helped my platform to spotlight authors such as Vivien Reis, Kim Change, Mandi Lynn, Bethany Atazadeh, and others. All you have to do is simply email these people. I let them know what the podcast is about, how it would help me, how it would help them in return, and provided some of the sample questions I would ask. Then, if they agreed, we would go from there. Deciding to conduct interviews was definitely a huge step and a big chance but I felt the worse that could happen is that they would say no. Thankfully, the majority of the people I’ve asked have said yes, but I would definitely recommend sending out an email and letting them know what you could do for them and their platform. If you can do that then I’m pretty sure the answer will always be yes.
J: It seems like you haven’t really had any roadblocks and that you’ve done a great job getting your podcast started. Has it always been this easy? Are there any tips or tricks you want to share with authors who are thinking about starting a podcast?
T: I definitely recommend being consistent, posting when you say you’re going to post, and posting often. People are going to look at your podcast and if they get attached and then you go off the face of the earth then people don’t find you reliable and this hinders your growth. This is one of my biggest flaws so if for any reason you feel like you need to take a step away, do so, but let your listeners know. If you’re open and honest with them they will understand.
I also recommend having five episodes ready to upload when you start. For example, if you plan to start August 1st, on August 1st, have five episodes ready to go. That will build up your listening time and people can get a feel for how you’re going to run your podcast and decide if they want to subscribe to you. I also recommend reaching out to people in the writing world and collaborating with them.
I’ve also heard that it’s good to release on Tuesdays. Research shows if you post on Tuesdays and your podcast is thirty minutes to an hour long then you’ll have a more successful podcast.
J: Last question. How do you set your podcast episodes to go live on certain days?
T: Personally, I record three to four episodes at a time, and then I upload each episode as a blog post. This allows me to schedule each blog post, or episode, to go live when I want it to go live; it’s similar to scheduling blog posts. This is also good if you know you’re going on vacation or won’t be able to record for a while. You can batch record and then schedule your podcasts, so you still seem consistent.
J: This has been so helpful! Thank you T.L. for coming onto the blog today and sharing this advice with my readers!
T: Thank you so much. I really enjoyed coming on and definitely, if anyone still has questions they can reach out to me and I will be more than happy to help any way I can.
T.L. Peterson writes crime/thriller novels that always feature a hint of romance. As a Midwest native, T.L. hosts a podcast, The Wicked Hour, which she uses to help other authors along in their writing journey. When she's not writing or working in the Public Safety sector, you can find her enjoying time with the loves of her life - her husband and their two children.
I hope you enjoyed reading this interview-style blog post, as much as I did! If you have any questions or tips you would like to share, please leave them in the comments down below.