This series is all about showcasing Libsyn podcasters. Its sole purpose is to introduce these awesome podcasts to the world as well as share their podcasting insight to empower the community!
Q & A with Jennifer Ebeling from The Still Growing Podcast
When did you start podcasting?
In May of 2013, my husband went away on a business trip to Europe for an entire week and when he came back home, I had started the podcast.
Here’s how it happened:
- The first night he was gone, I discovered the Stitcher app thanks to an article in (of all things) Good Housekeeping. It inspired me to start my own podcast.
- The second night he was gone, I ordered my equipment on Amazon. I also sent email requests to gardening experts inviting them to be on the show.
- By the fourth night, I had a name for the show – Still Growing –which was my signature sign-off for my blog at 6ftmama.com – and had booked my first three guests for the show.
- I also wrote a song for the show intro and outro with the Garage Band app on my iPad. This was surprisingly easy and I learned firsthand as a podcast listener that a 5 second snippet of intro music is more than sufficient for most shows.
- When Phil returned home, I greeted him with a quick kiss, and then raced back to my office studio to record my first interview.Bottom line: It took me ten years to actually start my blog – but just a week to begin podcasting. And, if I can do that while raising four kids and being mercilessly stalked by Sonny – our giant goofy Labrador, anyone can.
Why did you start podcasting?
Ha – Why not!?
Let me give you two personal reasons and then two professional reasons why podcasting is a great option for me.
First, for me personally, once I listened to a few gardening podcasts, something just clicked for me – I knew I could do it.
I learned TV production and oratory skills back in high school (we had a TV studio right inside the school) and some of my first jobs (a hundred years ago) involved doing playback at radio stations. So, in many ways, there was an easier technical barrier to entry for me with podcasting.
That said, I had to awaken skills I honed a long time ago – editing, diction, using a mixer, etc. I was a bit rusty – but it helped to have those experiences.
Here’s another personal benefit that I’ll mention – especially for the folks who are thinking about podcasting but who also have real situational constraints – financial, time, personal, etc.
I’m a stay-at-home mom. The emphasis here is on the “stay-at-home” part. I’ve got four kids – and while they’re not babies and toddlers anymore – my job is nowhere near done.
Just yesterday, I experienced one of my most challenging days as a Mom and the kids are 14,12, 10, and 8. I like to say that I’m raising giants – and by that I mean not only that the kids are super tall, but also the huge job of raising good people.
It’s a monumental task.
At the same time, I’m extremely curious. I’m a voracious reader and podcast listener.
Learning new things and meeting new people are very invigorating to me. As much as I would love to dash off to conferences or book signings, and spend thousands on a mastermind group (hello? – 3 kids in braces!), I’m not going to do that. I know from my days as a successful HR leader, how important stability is to business – and it’s equally important to families. So, the bulk of my nights are devoted to homework and supper – and all the other emotional, social, and spiritual experiences that are part of being a mom.
So, here’s where podcasting enters the picture: I can continue to reap the psychological benefits of growing and learning and meeting new people – in my case, awesome gardening experts from all over tarnation – without leaving the house or sacrificing my premium evening time with kids.
I won’t even mention the part about not having to get all dolled up…
On the professional side, I had a mentor once who went on to become the Chief People Officer at AOL back in the late 90’s. One day, we were discussing how to know when you should quit a job. His advice was so sound, it still resonates with me – and I’ll use it here to share what podcasting does for me professionally.
First, consider whether you are continuing to grow and learn. I think starting a show is such a creative and challenging endeavor. I’m continuing to build my expertise – both in horticulture and in podcasting.
There is always something new to learn and both fields are constantly evolving.
Second, the question we should always be asking ourselves is, “Am I happy doing this?”
For me, podcasting has opened so many doors within my field of expertise – to greater learning, to new friends, to exciting connections, to building authority. It’s been a great way to attract interest in my blog – 6ftmama.com.
What’s your show about?
The tagline for Still Growing is “dedicated to helping you and your garden grow”.
The guests for the show are people I come across in my own life.
I’ll see a flyer, read an article – of course, my Mom is always sending me clippings of potential guests – and I’ll start to think about interviewing them for the show. If I feel that curiosity about a person – that little sense of connection with someone – I trust my intuition and try to track them down for an interview.
One thing I’ve found is that the guests for Still Growing are so generous about sharing – their time (the show is an hour long), their resources and their experiences. For me, that’s what every show is about – the gift of sharing.
Therefore, every guest interview is a gift and every show is a gift. People are going to take what they hear on the Still Growing podcast and do something with it – they’ll show their own kids how to garden, get involved in starting a community garden, or simply make better choices about gardening. It’s making a difference.
My shows offer some unique personal touches, too. I usually start the show with some updates straight from my blog. You know, gardeners are such lovely people -really true nurturers at heart.
Podcasting is a great medium for gardeners because I think that connection so much more personal – and powerful – than just blogging alone.
It never fails to surprise me that the show has listeners from around the world – places you wouldn’t believe – and listeners get a glimpse of what’s going on in my life as a Minnesota gardener. They get to know me and hopefully when the show ends, they feel like they’ve listened to a friend.
My husband and I have weekly date nights and we are big movie-goers. We’ve always loved outtakes and extras at the end of movies. So, when it came time to produce Still Growing, I wanted to end the show with some bonus audio or special clips.
It’s another way to deepen the connection with folks. One of my favorite extras after the show is to feature something sweet from the kids – a poem or a story, maybe a joke or two. As a mom, it’s a bonus for me – kind of like an audio scrapbook. (I should really make a tape of all their bonus extras).
As long as I can still coerce the kids into reading a garden poem or two, I’ll keep at it. It’s amazing to think that they’re growing up in a time where creating media is so accessible and so incredibly simple.
They’re learning fantastic skills – quite brilliant, really – from these making these little extra tidbits at the end of the podcasts. I’m so lucky; I get to share my passion for podcasting and gardening with the kids – that’s pretty special to me.
What’s your podcasting set-up? Hardware, software, CMS, etc.
Listen, when I knew I was going to start a podcast – I had enough rusty knowledge from my broadcasting background to try to cobble together the equipment and resources that I needed from FREE – yep, totally FREE – content online.
My favorite FREE resources about equipment and how-to advice include:
- UC Berkeley Podcast Series
- Ryan Imel’s post on podcasting with a WordPress blog
- PDF Guide on Podcasting with GarageBand from the University of Miami
- Pat Flynn’s 8 Part Video Tutorial on Podcasting
I’ve ordered all of my equipment from Amazon.
Here’s my shopping list:
- I needed 4 microphones for when I have Master Gardener roundtables at my home studio. So I ordered 4 microphones, 2 stands, 2 swing arms with shock mounts and pop filters.
- 2 – On Stage MY–420 Studio Microphone Shock Mount (clipped on the boom arm – one for me – one for a guest)
- 2 Rode PSA1 Swivel Mount Studio Microphone Boom Arm (one for me and one for a guest)
- 4 Monster Standard 100 Microphone Cable 15 ft. (S100-m–15) (on for each mic)
- 4 Audio- Technica ATR 2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone (Love this mic – I have four)
- 2 Nady MPF–6 6-Inch Clamp on Microphone Pop Filter (One for me and one other guests – the other guests don’t get one.)
- 2 On Stage DS7200B Adjustable Desk Microphone Stand Black (used for two extra guests
- 4 On Stage Foam Ball Type Mic Windscreen Black (covering all four mics)
Here’s my Mixer – it’s not huge and – like a girl – I took a labeler to it so it’s easier to remember what each input/output/button is for. I’ll have to write a post about that some day…
- Mixer Behringer Xenyx 1202FX Premium 12-Input 2-Bus Mixer
- 2 Sennheiser HD 202 II Professional headphones (Black) (Love this headphone – I have an extra for a guest and the kids DO NOT GET TO USE THESE!! Ha!)
I LOVE my field recorder! I carry it with me all the time! Life changing – and tons of uses beyond podcasting!
- Roland R–05 Studio WAVE/MP3 Recorder – podcast answerman Cliff Ravenscraft recommends this and I’m so glad I took his advice!
- 3 Transcend 32 GB Class 1- SDHC Flash Memory Card (I ordered 3 because I use it that much – order 1 to start out… )
- Don’t forget the AA batteries – I always carry extra with me!
BACKUP Baby! I paid a tech guy to help me get my backup going. I ordered 2 hard drives. They back up my Mac while I sleep. One works for a week and the other sits in a fire safe. I rotate them every week. Great system – easy and affordable.
- 2 Seagate Expansion 1 TB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive (STBX1000101)CABLES
- Hosa Cable CMRR206 Stereo 1/8 Inch to Dual RCA adapter Cable 6 foot – connect mixer to iPad, iPhone (My Favorite Cable!)
- Belkin Audio Y Cable Splitter 1 Mini Plug, 2 RCA Plugs (6 feet)
- Hosa CMP153 Y Cable 1/8 Inch TRS to Dual ¼ Inch TS Cable – 3 foot
- Hos Cable GPR101 RCA to ¼ Inch TS Adaptor – 2 pack
- Hosa CMP 159 Stereo Breakout, 3.5 mm TRS to Dual ¼ in TS, 10 Feet
- Splash Shower Tunes – This is a blue tooth speaker so I can listen to podcasts in the shower. What?! No judging – These days moms have to make the most of every spare minute!
- Aqua Notes – A notepad for your shower. Life changing.
How have you promoted your podcast?
Get your show on all the best directories. Here are some great articles to reference:
FB is great. Don’t forget about Pinterest. It’s surprisingly powerful for podcasts.
Tell your guests SPECIFICALLY how they can help promote the show – with links and feedback.
This past month, I’ve put together a mentor list – folks from all different industries and with all different strengths – and I’m specifically asking them for ideas on how to grow the show.
That’s the focus – great ideas are so available and people like to help each other. In turn, I help people all the time. Good karma!
So, there’s this video that’s called Libsyn Wants to Promote your Podcast. Watch it and do it.
Posting an Excerpt and Link to my show on The Patch
I strategically post my show notes in “The Patch” in targeted communities all across the country. Unbelievable traffic from this awesome community resource.
ID3 Tags in iTunes
Descriptive ID3 Tags really help folks find you!
Host Name: USE FOR ARTIST, ALBUM ARTIST, and COMPOSER
Jennifer Ebeling: 6ftmama, Master Gardener & Blogger
Show Name: USE FOR ALBUM and GROUPING
Still Growing… with Jennifer Ebeling: A Weekly Gardening Podcast Dedicated to Helping You and Your Garden Grow: Gardening | Garden | Blogging | Lifestyle Design | Education
Short Cut Keys / Macros
Promotion takes a ton of dedication, repetition, and detail. Make it a little easier by setting up some Short Cut Keys or Macros on your iMac.
If I enter 6d then this comes up: Jennifer Ebeling –6ftmama.com
If I enter 6f then this comes up:
Home & Garden Blogger | Master Gardener | Host of Still Growing… a weekly gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow (available on iTunes & Stitcher). Stop by 6ftmama.com for information & inspiration for your home & garden.
6t generates my tagline: helping you and your garden grow.
A thought came to me this past year about getting reviews for the show and I realized I was really missing a key endorsement – from my guests.
All in, my shows take me a week to produce and my guests get some professional exposure.
Today, I make sure to ask my guests to support the show by leaving a review in iTunes. I note this in my interview packet and in the email to the guest announcing the show publication.
So, at a minimum, they probably hear me ask for a review at least three times.
Scripted interview packet
I think putting together a scripted interview packet has served me so well – both in securing guests and getting guest referrals.
My guests know exactly what the content of the show will look like (with a little room for spontaneity). My interview packets are so slick.
The album cover, logo, tagline and general info are on the first page.
Page 2 covers standard requests – headshots, graphics, links, social media, and my request that they leave a review for me in iTunes. Then then the packet has two questions per page – with room for the guest to write responses.
Professional and Easy Peasy.
Own your brand/podcast hashtag
Recently, I heard an interview with a social media expert (can’t remember who!) and he mentioned how it important it is to own your hashtag. I really believe this is powerful. So that will be a focus for this year – show posts and tweets unified with a single brand hashtag!
Have a meaningful Tagline
Neither 6ftmama or Still Growing would tell you that gardening is one of my areas of expertise. So, it’s super important that I include my tagline – helping you and your garden grow – on everything regarding the show. It’s in my promos, in the show itself, it’s in the header for my site, etc.
Leverage Talkwalker Alerts
Ileane Smith talked about this useful tool way back in July of 2013 on her podcast.
This past month, Michael Stelzner talked about it on his show.
I love Talkwalker and Michael even said he thought it was way better than google alerts. I agree.
I use it for guest research and promotion ideas. For example, if you’re doing a show about new typewriters – put an alert on new typewriters. You’ll instantly get the places that might be great promotional partners delivered directly to your inbox. Smart and simple.
Be Proud of Your Work
Years ago, I worked with a dear friend who was convinced that pride and loyalty were two key (and often missing) components to success. I think pride and loyalty are so foundational to promoting your show.
It’s so difficult to promote something if you feel something less than pride for it. I’ve been in that situation before and it’s miserable.
I’m proud of my show.
I love that folks can listen to it and learn something.
I love that it’s positive and collaborative and open and accessible.
For me, it’s like talking about one of my kids. I could go on and on about them. I think the show you’re producing needs to be like that.
C’mon – when you boil it down, all these shows on Libsyn servers are little labors of love, so, be proud of the good work you’re doing – right where it is today.
Like the kiddos, it might be a little immature, or funny, or serious – whatever – but it is yours and it’s worth promoting.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
- Anyone can do this. You don’t need a degree or a big studio. If you want to podcast, go for it!
- You don’t need a mastermind or an expensive course to podcast if you’re willing to do the legwork. There’s lots of free content out there – both online and on-air.
- Don’t forget that you are serving others – get feedback, be respectful, be sensitive, be curious, be engaged.
- You can glean much from maniacal listening to the podcast social media circuit. In my weekly playlist are: The Feed, Entrepreneur on Fire, This is Your Life with Michael Hyatt, Social Media Marketing Podcast, Chris Ducker, The Smart Passive Income Podcast, 48 Days LLC, Internet Business Mastery, Unmistakable Creative, Amy Porterfield, The LifeStyle Entrepreneur, The Oh So Pinteresting Podcast, Learning with Leslie, The Joel Comm Show, BlogAid Podcast (and I’ve gotten great personal coaching from MaAnna as well), Content Warfare Podcast, The Rise to the Top, and WordPress Resource. Bonus: The Writers Almanac & A Prairie Home Companion (I’m Minnesotan). This steady diet of podcasts has really built my own self-confidence and expertise in podcasting.
- Ask people for help. I don’t care what the critics say – people are generous. Ask, ask, ask.
- Join communities. The podcasting group on G+ is extremely helpful.
- Even the experts have to hustle (and pee). The people at the top of Podcast Mountain aren’t just sitting up there enjoying the view. They are right beside us in the battle to stay current on trends and tech. They get down, have bad days, lose opportunities, etc. Podcasting affords huge opportunities with great rewards – but not without struggle and perseverance.
- That I will listen to each episode I produce at least 20 times between recording, editing and then reviewing the final product. My skills are improving which helps with the production time. The tradeoff is that in exchange for my time, I’m becoming an expert on the material covered in each show.
- The joy of having my kids take part in the show out-takes at the end and watching their confidence build in front of the microphone. And, that they are proud of me.
- A break from podcasting doesn’t have to mean you have pod-faded. Christmas season hit and I took a break. Then my iMac crashed. Life happens. Just keep going.
- Last year, I would have never guessed that I’d be asking for one of those big lighted ON AIR signs to hang outside my office door to let the family know when I’m recording! But, that’s pretty much my wish for my birthday this year… so, yeah.
- The Best is Yet to Come
I realized something after having four kids in five years, transitioning from my career in Human Resources to be a stay-at-home mom, getting my very first dog, celebrating over 20 years of marriage to my high school sweetheart, and now starting a podcast: Milestones are not finish-lines. And, there is no end to learning.
So… as I say to my kids, I might be six feet tall, but I am still growing!
How’s that for an fabulous interview? Whether you are a gardener, a wanna-be gardener or had simply thought about gardening once in your life, you need to subscribe to this show ASAP.
She’s the kind of podcaster that is passionate, will undoubtedly continue to grow and her material will only get better.
If you’ve been thinking that starting a podcast needs you to enroll in some podcasting course or do some podcasting mastermind, after reading this article you know that’s not the case. Take Jennifer’s advice and get on it! We would love to host your media!