I am Anna Jaworski and the Host of "Heart to Heart with Anna: A Podcast for the Congenital Heart Defect Community." I am the mother of an adult son who was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and he has had 3 open-heart surgeries. I host this podcast to educate, inspire and enrich the lives of my listening audience.
I podcast because I love reaching out to people in my community. I love hearing their stories and sharing information that can help people in the congenital heart defect (CHD) community.
Initially, I wanted to create the kind of podcast I wanted to hear myself as the mother of a son with a heart defect. Now I hope to reach more people than just parents. I create shows for Heart Warriors, parents, grandparents, friends and those who work with people in the CHD community.
I started podcasting in 2013 with VoiceAmerica but I only stayed with them for one season. It took me a few months to prepare for that first podcast because I mapped out the entire first season before releasing the first show. The time was well spent and I would recommend to anyone getting started to spend plenty of time up front to prepare the best you can. 'Podcast fade' is a phenomenon in the podcast world that I think could be prevented with more work before broadcasting that first episode.
I release a new episode every week. I try to create 3 "seasons" of shows -- each season is 13 episodes. I write out scripts for my programs based on bios I receive from my guests. I have them approve or edit the scripts and then we record. It usually takes about an hour to write a script, about an hour to record a 30-minute program and many hours to edit the show. I want the show to sound as good as it can and I use Skype to record, Audacity to edit and Auphonic to help it sound even better! I'd guess it takes a good 10 hours per half-hour episode.
This is my day job. This is my passion. I do it without financial compensation because I believe in the mission of the nonprofit I created before I even started podcasting. The nonprofit is in its infancy and I hope to eventually start grant writing so this project can continue even if I die. I'm creating an amazing team of volunteers to help with this process.
Currently, Hearts Unite the Globe: A Nonprofit Organization for the Congenital Heart Defect Community funds the podcast. We pay monthly fees to Spreaker and BlogTalkRadio, as well as fees for our website (hug-podcastnetwork.com). It's less than $100 per month to produce the podcast and make it available for free to our listeners.
We don't have sponsorship yet. Our payment is not with dollars at this point. Right now our "payment" is the letters/emails/posts we get from our listeners who tell us that our podcast makes a difference. One listener wrote to us to ask for help and thanks to connections made over the years, we were able to help a boy from Africa get life-saving open-heart surgery. You can't quantify what that means to us. It's priceless.
I use a MacBookPro to help with recording and with sound editing. I use Audacity to edit the show and Call Recorder to record the program (and Skype). I have used the BlogTalkRadio studio before but I feel that recording with Call Recorder is better/easier.
I find my guests on Facebook, Twitter and through word-of-mouth or just through my personal contacts over the years. As an author of 2 anthologies, I have published work from over 100 people in the CHD community and that has opened the door to me getting to know many people in our community. Now it's more common for people to come to me to request being on the program. I also have a form people can fill out on my website requesting to come on the program. Sometimes, those people make outstanding guests.
I request a 150-word bio from each person but I discovered some people have trouble preparing something like that so I created a template they could fill in to help me write their bio for them. I now have a scriptwriting committee that meets with me twice a week. We take the bios and create scripts from them which I share with my guest. The guest can approve or edit the script. Once that is taken care of, I send them my Book Like a Boss link and they sign up for a time to record the show.
We then use Skype and Call Recorder to record the show. I use Audacity to edit the show (or someone from my Sound Engineering committee does so) and then I upload the show to Auphonic to fine tune it. After that I upload the show to BlogTalkRadio and create a slideshow to accompany the program. I upload it to Spreaker and Buzzsprout, too. I like Buzzsprout because it allows me to create a Visual Sound Bite which I believe helps people determine whether or not they want to listen to the show.
I also make a meme from a quote I take from my guest during the interview. I publicize the meme on Facebook and sometimes on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, depending on the assistance I receive from my volunteers.
My show is available on BlogTalkRadio, Spreaker, Buzzsprout, YouTube, iTunes, Stitcher and apparently on Listen Notes, too (which I just discovered during this interview)! The percentage of my listenership varies depending on the quality of marketing done for each channel. My webmaster puts the YouTube link for each show on our website. We have started to publicize our website on our memes so a certain number of our listeners go to our website but that varies each week. Buzzsprout allows us to make Visual Sound Bites and the link takes the listener to iTunes. If the sound bite is very compelling, I suspect more people go to iTunes. Each week we have different results and I haven't been able to figure out a formula for what works best yet but I know that the more we talk about each show through memes, Visual Sound Bites, Facebook events, etc., the better our numbers are.
Facebook is the social media avenue I'm most comfortable with but we use Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram as well. The more professional the show is, the more Twitter and LinkedIn seem helpful. Facebook seems to work well for everyday shows about common people instead of about celebrities or doctors.
I have been podcasting for 3 years and, initially, I didn't know the importance of analytics. My philosophy was that if we helped even only one person with the podcast, it was worth whatever effort was required to create it. That's very naive and it has prevented me from being able to approach sponsors. Now I know that we've had over 50,000 Listeners and I have some numbers associated with my show. To have a total of only 50,000 Listeners isn't a fabulous number -- some podcasts have that many Listeners for one show! But given the fact that my community of Listeners if very small, that number is impressive.
I learned the value of attending podcasting conferences, of reaching out to other podcasters and learning with and from them and from sharing what I've learned over the last 3 years. Thanks to Alexander Laurin I found out about this interview. Making friends in the podcasting community makes podcasting even more fun and allows us to learn from one another and to help one another make the best podcasts we can.