The Benefits of Podcasting

My interest in podcasting developed in the middle of the night. When I have insomnia, my mind becomes a dangerous neighborhood. If I wake in the wee hours, my brain spins tales about inadequacies, old opinions or grudges, and work that I should be doing. I discovered, however, that donning headphones and listening to podcasts took me away from this circular mind chatter. Once I’ve pressed “play” I will either go back to sleep or, if sleep eludes me, I’ll at least learn something.

Beyond being my answer to insomnia, I’ve seen that podcasts can be extremely helpful for writers.Many are about the craft of writing, but beyond these,podcasts can boost a book launch, promote an existing book, market an author as an expert or spread awareness of your work or genre.

Podcasting offers writers several advantages. First of all, the beauty of this media is that there are no gatekeepers. You don’t have to convince an editor, program director or producer that your material is worth broadcasting. Anyone with a computer, headphones and microphone can develop a podcast and send it out to the world.

Another benefit is that there is no set length or format for podcasting. Some highly successful programs are three minutes long, while others take several hours, plus every timespan in between. And, regardless of length, podcast content can be evergreen. As long as you keep it on a website and/or with a podcast host, it’s there when people want to listen.

Writers can take advantage of podcasting to increase their platforms, sell books and market their skills by doing the following:

  • Record your short stories or a work of fiction as a serial broadcast. There is no end to the demand for a story well told, and some listeners only subscribe to this type of podcast.
  • Nonfiction books can also be serialized or abridged in podcast form. A podcast can provide listeners with a taste of your work, with links in the show notes as to where the book can be purchased.
  • Give your readers the backstory behind your writing or provide them with a behind-the-scenes tour of your book or career. One of the best examples I’ve heard of this type of podcast is Launch, by screenwriter Jack August. This six-episode program follows August’s book, Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire from conception through printing. This podcast gives newcomers to writing and publishing a look at the processes involved. By hearing his backstory and experiencing his excitement at seeing his book roll through the printing presses (“There it is! That’s my book!”), the audience develops a relationship with August, becoming invested in his career and possibly motivated to buy his book.
  • A podcast about your particular genre or subject matter can help establish you as an expert in your field. Whether you do only a few episodes or make it into an ongoing program, it’s a powerful, effective way to reach new audiences and clients.

Getting Started

I partnered with another writer and plant geek to produce Plantrama, a podcast about plants, foraging and gardens. There is a fairly steep learning curve for podcast production when you start from scratch, like we did. However, we took things one step at a time and are now entering our third year of podcasting.

Early on we learned that we both should use the same microphone so that the sound is consistent. We needed to settle on editing software and ended up using Garageband since we are both Mac users and already have it on our computers. A good logo is also highly important. Additionally, we discovered the many advantages of having a podcast host. And we hired my website designer to set up an effective website and learn the basics of getting Plantrama listed on Apple Podcasts..

If podcasting intrigues you, start by listening to various podcasts in your area of interest and/or expertise and beyond. Subscribe to professionally done shows such as those by NPR as well as others created by individuals. Listen for good sound quality and how the content is presented. Hear what works well and makes you want to listen again.

Along with a vast pool of online resources that can easily be found through Google, you can take advantage of podcasting support groups and conferences and meetings.

Unlike videos, podcasts can be listened to in a variety of circumstances. Whether listeners are driving, cooking, working out, or simply awake in the middle of the night, your podcast is a fantastic opportunity to connect with a whole new audience.

C.L. Fornari is the author of several books and writes for a variety of consumer and green-industry trade publications. She is the host of GardenLine on WXTK and the co-host of Plantrama,a podcast about plants, foraging and gardens.

If you’re wondering whether your business plan has room for podcasting, be sure to register for the ASJA NYC conference, May 5-6. Sign up for the “Grow Your Business Mastermind” for a deep dive into developing your freelance business.