What 7 Years of Podcasting Has Taught Me

What 7 Years of Podcasting Has Taught Me

I made a pretty big decision this weekend to end my podcasting journey, without any fanfare or second guessing.

It dawned on me that I have been podcasting for 7 years. Seven freaking years of putting out episodes!

What started out as monthly back on May 16, 2011, turned into twice a month around 2012 and at at the end of 2013 became weekly.

By 2015 I’d decided to up my game and go twice weekly, with one interview one ‘Fresh in Fifteen’ 15 minute show with my own tips.

In august 2016 I hit 1 Million Downloads which was a pretty awesome achievement for me and a show of wonderful support from listeners and the Suitcase Entrepreneur community.

As I wrote in that article:

I started my podcast in 2011 on May 16th. I actually had to look that date up as I couldn’t remember!

My first guest was the lovely Colleen Wainwright from Communicatrix and the interview (from my side at least) was pretty mediocre. You can check it out here.

Episode 4, I convinced Laura Roeder to talk about The Art of Not Doing Everything Yourself.

From there, I was off and running.

At it’s peak 40,000 ‘Freedomists’ tuned in from all over the world, every month. To date it has over 1.8 million downloads which blows my mind.

I know many of my peers have podcasts that do that in a few months, but I’m proud of that result plus 200+ five-star reviews.

In late 2013 the podcast was nominated and made a Top 10 Finalist in the Business Category at the Podcast Awards and it consistently ranked in the Top 100 category for Business in iTunes.

Weekly interviews with successful entrepreneurs and digital nomads included Michael Hyatt, Amy Portereld, Pam Slim, Chris Guillebeau, Pat Flynn, Jaime Masters, Chris Ducker, Jill and Josh Stanton, Josh Turner, Nisha Moodley, Mark Manson, Nick Loper and Denise Duffield-Thomas to name but a few.

Podcasting Benefits

A few other valid points I made in that article:

  • I love podcasting – I enjoy it and it works for my natural talents – I like to talk a lot and I like to interview all types of people, treat it like a casual conversation, and bring out the best in them so they can share their stories far and wide
  • It’s a fantastic community building tool – I love my Freedomists who listen in every week and then meet me in person to tell me how much they enjoy the show – and that I sound exactly like I do on my podcast. Their engagement and feedback makes my day.
  • It’s a fantastic business marketing tool  – I’ve indirectly traced more revenue thanks to listeners telling me that they signed up to a program or a retreat or a mastermind because of hearing me talk about it on my podcast. I’ve also increased my list thanks to people who opted in to get my podcast bonus guides.
  • It’s an excellent way to engage with and partner with sponsors – I’ve been fortunate to have a host of amazing sponsors over the years like 99Designs, Hostgator, Upwork, Skross and more. Some I approached, others approached me and it’s been a brilliant source of revenue to not only fund the costs of running a podcast but as a revenue stream all in itself.

Podcasting Realities

You have to go all in, or not at all.

Sure you can start out like I did, with my laptop, Skype and no fancy microphone and do just fine, but if you want to be top of class you need to up your game as you grow.

I’m talking great equipment – I use the Zoom H6 Handy Recorder and an external Schuh Microphone.

I outsourced editing within the first month knowing this wasn’t where I wanted to spend my time. And it was a brilliant investment.

Over time as I’ve learned more and done more with my podcast, it’s meant hiring more people to help with show notes, content upgrades, formatting, images and hosting.

Our SOP (standard operating procedure) for editing and producing a podcast – which is also a full Asana template for our team now, is impressive and something I’m so proud we’ve built.

But it sure does take time, effort and money.

I asked Rolly, who’s been my amazing podcast editor since January 2014, to total his hours worked on my podcast and it’s approximately 1,200 hours to date!

Batching recording my podcasts in advance has helped a great deal too, meaning you can take time off, go on holiday or simply not worry about scrambling last minute to get an episode out…which has happened a lot to be fair!

Sponsors were a big part of helping out with covering the considerable costs of running a podcast, which I think a lot of people starting out underestimate.

To date I’ve earned over US$100,000 in sponsorships.

That is amazing in itself, as are the relationships you forge with the sponsors.

Podcast Guests Really Make a Great Show

I’ve been privileged to interview some amazing guests when it was the Suitcase Entrepreneur and these have made a huge difference to the quality of my shows, my reach and also credibility.

While I never assumed those I interviewed would share my show (although many did), just being able to put their name as a guest on your show gave you instant kudos.

I also loved interviewing those folks who were up and coming or just doing really cool stuff but were not ‘big names’ or influencers, because frankly they were in the thick of it all and told it as it really was.

Their stories resonated even more with my listeners, because they could relate.

Here are the TOP ranked Suitcase Entrepreneur Podcasts:

I finished my Suitcase Entrepreneur interview series on Episode 300 and that felt awesome.

Switching to a New Podcast Format

In January 2017 I switched over to a narrative style format and rebranded to Quest for Freedom when I also switched over to posting more on this new website and moving away from The Suitcase Entrepreneur.

I’d fallen in love with this format after listening to Startup by Gimlet Media and loving the storytelling and seasonal aspect of their podcasts.

Of course they had built an entire company to produce quality podcasts and had a whole team of editors, journalists and writers behind them but I figured I could do my own version and I was a bit ‘over’ the interview format that so many people do.

In April 2016 I went on my sabbatical and took a three month break from all content creation and my business. This didn’t affect things too much but I did quite like the break from having to come up with themes for the season and all the research.

Turns out narrative podcasts by yourself are much more work than interviewing fab people!

I navigated away from seasonal podcasts to more topical themes so mindset, meditation, productivity etc.

This helped me get my head around what to focus on, otherwise I could talk on all sorts of topics!

Losing My Podcast Mojo

Post my sabbatical was, incidentally, also around the time I realized my enthusiasm and desire to produce high quality content for free (but at my investment) week in and week out was waning.

And so it leads me to this moment in time, when I can quite happily walk away from seven years of committing to this amazing medium that has brought me so much joy, happiness and personal growth.

It’s also brought me new friends, connections and insights with incredible entrepreneurs and taught me a level of work ethic and discipline like batching and organizing well ahead of time, that’s permeated every aspect of my business.

It’s been profitable and pleasurable.

For now though, I’m looking forward to listening to other people’s podcasts and appreciating just what goes into theirs.

At some point in the future I have ideas for new and more targeted shows, but for now I’m hanging up my podcast boots with gratitude to all my listeners and supporters who made me want to turn up for 7 years and hit publish.

The great news is you can forever listen to the 48 Episodes of Quest for Freedom right here, the first 300 Episodes on the Suitcase Entrepreneur here.

2 comments

  1. Louisa says:

    Hi Natalie, I was just catching up on your latest and realised this is the last ever podcast. It actually made me quite emotional! I’ve been listening to your podcast since episode 13 when I first started my business. You have helped and inspired me in so many ways – tools, processes and most importantly how to be a digital nomad. I am now a part time digital nomad (I have a base) so BIG THANKS to you.

    • Natalie says:

      Huge thanks for saying so Louisa. That means a lot to me! This is why podcasting has been such a big part of my life and there are many days I’m tempted to bring it back… you never know.

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