Margaret Larkin works in production at WGN Radio, and is the editor and publisher of the anthology Down the Block. She has taught at the City Colleges of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Margaret is also the creator of the Radiogirl Podcast, where she interviews “interesting folks in and around the radio.” The podcast draws thousands of listeners and can be found on both the podcast’s website and iTunes.
Margaret will teach our next Writers Night Out Workshop: Podcasting for Writers on Monday, Nov. 4 at Lillstreet Loft. Before she doles out advice there, she was generous enough to answer some of our questions about this exciting new medium.
CWC: What can podcasts do for writers?
It can expand what writers do. For instance, if you’ve written a historical novel, interview experts and historians about that time period. If a story has been set in an interesting location, interview people there and share descriptions of the place, supplemented with photos. Non-fiction authors can provide more information about their topic as new discoveries are made, and they can interview other experts as well. Some writers read parts of their books or offer additional chapters as audio-only versions.
CWC: What’s the most common mistakes podcast newbies make?
Not having a goal and a focused theme. Write down why you’re doing the podcast, who your target audience is, what you want to accomplish, and create a content plan. It will also keep you motivated. Another mistake is heavily promoting the podcast before you’ve established your style or decided on the right niche. Some people start out doing a certain kind of podcast, then realize it’s not working because the audience isn’t there or it doesn’t fit with their other work. When you start the podcast, consider it as in beta or even alpha mode, and don’t widely publicize it until you’ve worked out the kinks.
CWC: What is your number 1 tip for a successful podcast?
Just as you’ve had to do with your books, you have to know where your audience is and what they are interested in. Find out how you can reach your audience (which will require a marketing/publicity plan) and provide content that they’ll want to listen to.
CWC: How scary is the technical side of podcasting?
The audio editing part can be challenging, but you don’t have to get caught up in the complications or expense. You’ll probably have to spend time experimenting with audio settings and your equipment. Luckily, there are videos and information online that will help you, and you can also troubleshoot with other podcasters. It’s important to learn enough so that you’re creating quality audio.
Are you ready to begin your podcast? Register here for Podcasting for Writers!
CWC Executive Director, Mare Swallow, will be at the Illinois Woman’s Press Association New Member Reception tonight, Oct. 23 at 6:00 pm. Tonight’s theme: “Career Transitions–Staying Alive.” For more info, please visit the IWPA’s website.