My name is Brandon Hull and I'm the host of Freelance to Founder. I co-produce the show with Preston Lee, founder of a freelance community called Millo. While on the surface it sounds like an interview show just like so many others, we do things quite a bit different. Ours is a narrative show, where I interview guests and then 'build' their stories into an episode.
Our listeners are freelancers who aspire to scale their businesses to be bigger than, and less dependent on, themselves. Sometimes they like getting to know our guests' personal stories better, but mostly they love the lessons they can learn.
The podcast existed prior to me, having launched in January 2017. Season 1 was produced by the incredibly talented Dallan Wright, who then moved onto another show and other projects. I took over starting with Season 2, and have produced Season 3 and 4 since (we're just finishing Season 4 now).
I listen to loads and loads of podcasts. I have a core 10 or so I'll listen to regularly, but will sample another 10 or so every week to hear others' formats and personalities.
My personal goals for starting a podcast were to share others' stories, but also to add my own voice. I'll be launching another show here soon that's more casual and unscripted, but I like entertaining and persuading people to think about things in a new and fresh way. I first started podcasting with the now defunct Podango network about 12 years ago!
We typically launch a new episode each week over the course of 8 weeks for a single season, then take 6-8-week break before beginning work on the next season. A single episode is a major endeavor, since it's not just a recorded interview, with most episodes requiring about 6 hours of total work including guest interview, scriptwriting and recording, and production.
Interviews often happen in the early mornings or late afternoons, sometimes evenings, since I have a day job. All production happens at night or on weekends.
Costs are pretty straightforward: We host with Simplecast at $12/month. That's it. I could be doing a much, much better job of marketing the show however. We have a tremendous listenership built-in with the Millo community but I'm terrible at social media marketing so that's an area for improvement!
What we gain from podcasting is a blend of financial and non-financial returns. We've been very fortunate with sponsors the first few seasons. Can't share revenue details, but it has multifold paid for all costs and then some, into the thousands and thousands. Preston and I split the sponsor revenue.
We find sponsors by reaching out to companies that have a solution to offer the freelance community, mostly. We haven't targeted, but I suppose could, providers who sell consumer products.
As of the 12-month mark in February we were at 125,000 total downloads, but that has scaled upward more aggressively since then.
Podcasting has opened my eyes to what a career can look like. It's not what it used to be. I've spoken to great people, some who had a rigid plan of what they wanted to accomplish, most of whom didn't. That's been a great eye-opener. Getting to know them has been priceless, literally.
As far as tools go, here's my process: I interview via Skype, recording primarily through Audio Hijack Pro on my Macbook Pro. I use a Heil PR40 microphone into a Behringer UMC404HD audio interface. I have a backup recording spilling out to a Zoom H2N recorder. I use Hindenburg Journalist Pro software to record my narration and edit the show (and as a side note, the right combination of Waves plug-ins enabled me to ditch my non-mobile-friendly dbx 286s compressor/limiter). I put the final touches on with Auphonic.
We identify guests that we think our audience will either know and want to 'get to know' better, or still relate to their story, if the guest is lesser-known. Either I or Preston will reach out to potential guests via email or Twitter. Our success rate is over 90%, only a couple flat 'No' responses.
I'll research the guest's recent tweets, blog posts, and even appearances on other podcasts and build my questions from there, trying to avoid the obvious stuff they've already shared. We want the guest's appearance to be more genuinely unique for them, and for our listeners, than any other podcast they've been interviewed for.
As mentioned earlier, I STINK at personal marketing. We have a great, built-in audience with our Millo community at the Millo.co website and the companion Facebook group. It drives a great amount of visibility to the show. But I do a terrible job of building my following on Twitter and elsewhere as show host. Stats tell us mobile is the #1 source of listeners, with only 25% listening via web browser and only 6% coming via iTunes.
The best advice I can give is to focus on creating killer content. That might mean a unique show format, outstanding recurring segments that are special to your show, and of course being an amazing host. A great show is more important than the best possible equipment.