If you've hung around the indie sphere long enough, then the audio boom isn't news. The question is, are you capitalising on it? Creating an author podcast is work, but it's good work that will reap benefits for the long term. Author member Holly Lyne from The Great Western Woods Podcast is here to teach us how to create an indie author podcast.
Why I Run an Indie Author Podcast
I've only been podcasting for a few months. The whole thing started with a slightly surreal exchange with my writing bestie, Angeline Trevena, in which I suggested we collaborate and she replied that she had been thinking the exact same thing.
And so our joint venture was born.
Angeline already had a podcast, The Great Western Woods Worldbuilding Podcast. But I'd noticed she'd stopped releasing new episodes some months previously and I suggested we revive it as a two-woman show.
I thought it would be fun and that I could bring something fresh to the project. I'd listened to other podcasts with multiple hosts and found myself often drawn to them. I liked the informal, chatty tone and thought that could work really well for the Great Western Woods.
It only took Angeline and I about three weeks to go from initial conversation, to launching our first episode.
Podcasting is one of those things you can get up and running incredibly quickly and for free.
So here are my initial thoughts, things I've learned in the first few months of podcasting.
Why Run an Indie Author Podcast?
Podcasting is a great way to connect with people on a more personal level. Your voice is easier to connect with than words on a page. It shows your personality and feels more tangible, it makes you a real person to others.
Our podcast is for other writers, rather than readers. I'm sure someone somewhere is making podcasting work for them as a fiction author targeting fiction readers, but Angeline and I wanted to broadcast to other writers. We felt we had something of value to share with the author community.
How to Create an Indie Author Podcast
Podcasting is easy and completely free. You can spend lots of money on fancy equipment and hosting, but you don't need to.
For The Great Western Woods, we use all free software. We record and edit using Discord and Audacity; we upload and distribute to all of the various podcast providers with Anchor.
You could also use Skype, YouTube, or any paid services to edit and host your podcast.
Anchor is great because it's all free all the time. Their company values really mesh with mine and Angeline's. Whether you use Anchor to record and edit your podcast, or simply use it to distribute the completed episodes, you can reach all of the major platforms through them; including Apple, Google and Spotify.
You don't absolutely have to have a fancy intro and outro, but if you want to polish your podcast with these touches, you can find free to use stock music on various websites. One of my favourites is https://www.free-stock-music.com.
What Should You Podcast About?
In our case, the Great Western Woods Worldbuilding Podcast already existed and Angeline had already put a lot of work into it. We both love worldbuilding and felt we had lots to talk about on the subject, so there was never any question of changing it.
My advice would be to pick something that you're passionate about and aren't going to get bored of any time soon. What do you bombard your significant other or friends with all the time? What can you talk about for hours on end and never tire of? That's the subject for your podcast.
As for deciding what to discuss in any given episode, Angeline and I decide our topics a few weeks in advance of recording. We use events that are time sensitive, then slot in other topics around that. Once we have a topic, we write a script and schedule recording time.
We don't interview people, or haven't done yet, so it's just us that need to be available. Scheduling interviews can be done using a tool like Google Calendar. You may need to consider time zones, but always make sure the time is convenient for you. You don't need to reschedule your life to accommodate other people.
How Do I Market a Podcast?
Having a website and blog is a great way to connect your podcast to your own internet real estate that you can control. You can provide links, a transcript and any further information related to your podcast for your listeners.
Beyond that, social media is your friend.
Angeline and I mainly use Instagram. The author community on there is fantastic. Our target audience is primarily fairly new writers and worldbuilders, so we tap into the relevant hashtags there and make sure to chat and engage with the community.
We run monthly challenges, where we provide daily prompts and then share posts we get tagged in in our stories. This is a great way to help listeners and followers to feel as though they're part of the process.
We also have a Facebook page, but more and more it's becoming obvious that these are a time-suck. Groups may yield better engagement for many writers, but take a lot of time to build up.
There are paid advertising options, but this is something to work up to and probably not worth investing in right out of the gate.
Let's Talk Money
Podcasting doesn't usually pay. Very few podcasters are earning money directly from their efforts. We do it because we enjoy it and it's a great way to connect with people. But once you have a good following, there are ways to monetise your podcast.
The big one is sponsorship. Anchor can help you connect with potential sponsors. As a listener, I prefer personal recommendations by the host, rather than canned recorded advertisements.
Another option is to start a Patreon, but I suspect that's a whole other article! Patreon is a membership site that creators can use to collect regular donations from fans that helps to pay for content. There are people doing this very well, not least of which is ALLi's very own Joanna Penn.
But you shouldn't go into podcasting for a paycheck. That's probably not realistic and listeners will hear through it. It's best to do it because you want to connect with readers or other authors, have fun and generally raise your profile as an author.
I hope this beginners guide is useful. I look forward to continuing on this podcasting journey and having more insight to share in future.
OVER TO YOU
Have you got an author podcast? What tips and tricks do you use to run an indie author podcast?
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