Cliff Ravenscraft is the mastermind behind the podcast panels at Blog World this year, and we were lucky enough to have him answer our questions on his rise to podcast success and his advice on how to start. We’ve included some highlights from the interview below, but do listen to his recorded responses, they’re great!
Do you mind introducing yourself?
I’m Cliff Ravenscraft and I’m a full time podcast producer, consultant, and coach at Podcastanswerman.com. It’s been my full-time career since 2008.
How did you get into podcasting?
I started in December 2005 with a show devoted to Lost, and it was just a hobby, however I had thousands of subscribers by the third episode. Lost had just been made available for purchase on iTunes just around the time that podcasts were made available there. My podcast could be found next to official Lost podcast. I started out with $35 worth of equipment, a headseat with a boom microphone, and downloaded free software from Audacity. It sounded atrocious, but people listened! My wife joined me by the second episode, and I went further and bought mics for $49. We just talked together as a couple and people loved it, requesting us for more, and we grew a loyal following from within the Lost community.
Then, after receiving up to 40 emails every day asking us about our personal life, we started our second podcast, My Crazy Life, now known as Pursuing a Balanced Life. We answered questions about things like living debt free, and talking about our financial history as a married couple.
Eventually we started a third show about faith, Encouraging Others Through Christ. We had been receiving questions about our faith as Christians, but didn’t want to go out of the way and introduce a topic in shows where people wouldn’t be interested in hearing about it. We developed a show for those asking about it without having to feel like we were forcing anybody into tuning in.
People also kept asking, “how do you make a podcast?” so I started Podcast Answer Man. It started in December 2007 and it’s been 260 episodes to date. After a year of that it became full-time career.
At Blog World you’ll be talking about starting a fan podcast, but what exactly is that, and how does one go about it properly? (Correction, he’s not leading the session, but set up the entire podcasting track at Blog World this year, deciding on the 24 sessions to be held and who would take part in the panels.)
A fan podcast is when you take something from popular culture that already has fans, and you bring in a podcast that becomes the uniting force for that community. The Lost show acted as such: instead of posting on online discussion forums, or looking at sites and leaving comments, how about listening and calling in, and hearing your own voice. It doesn’t have to be a TV show, it could be anything. Recently we talked about The Hunger Games on our podcast, sharing our thoughts. Because there were already tens of thousands of fans out there, they found us, and we went out and found them. It’s a chance to build a community, share friendships, and build new relationships.
Find something you’re passionate about, learn how to podcast, and get behind a microphone and start talking about it and getting it online.
What advice can you give on monetizing your podcast? How did you go about making podcasting your full-time job?
It was an interesting story. I was a successful insurance agent, and after 11 years decided to leave and pursue podcasting full-time. Previously I had been podcasting for 2 years as a hobby. In 2008, in my first year of full-time podcasting, I made $11,000. It was a risky move and it was difficult time, but check out the linked videos to see how it turned out:
What are you looking forward to seeing at Blog World? Where do you hope podcasting is going?
I’m looking forward to the largest turnout of audio podcasters ever at Blog Word event, with 24 sessions and 64 podcasters coming to speak. All the podcasters have sizeable audiences and are extremely influential in the community. They’re serious and experienced, and will be sharing the best things they’ve learned throughout their journeys. I’m looking forward to having three days with people who share my passion and the joy of podcasting, as well as networking and building deeper relationships.
I hope podcasting keeps going in the direction it’s going. It remained in an infancy stage up until last year, where at some point it has gone pretty mainstream. People who had never heard of podcasting before found podcasts they love, and now want to do the same for their brand, message, or business.
I’m looking forward to seeing podcasts become more successful in every place it can be, like car stereos. Nowadays smart phones are making it so much easier to understand and discover podcasting.
What are you favorite podcasting tips?
Before you buy anything or consider doing something with a website think: why do i want to podcast? What is its mission, purpose, or message? Who is your target? Pick a name that’s potentially boring but communicates what it is, and don’t pick a topic that’s too general. If you do get into it, get the proper audio equipment because audio quality counts. Check out more at Learnhowtopodcast.com.
Thanks Cliff, it was a fantastic interview!