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How to Become An Influential Local Podcaster For Your Community
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What’s your favorite coffee shop or your favorite restaurant? Where do you get your haircut? What nonprofit in your town do you support? Everyone has those places in their community but the stories of those people tend to get overlooked. In this post, Mike Ham explains that as podcasters, we tend to chase the big-name guest or the national audience, but there is real power in being THE person in your community giving a voice to places in your backyard. Are there challenges? Of course, but the rewards are endless.
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Read the Blog Post: How to Become An Influential Local Podcaster
Let us talk about what it’s like to be a local podcaster. So I started podcasting in 2020, but more of a generic interview-style show.
In October 2021, I decided I wanted to do something different. At the time, I was like, “Hey, I am from New Jersey. I love New Jersey.
I love everything it has to offer.”
So I launched Greetings From the Garden State and immediately noticed a big difference in how my community interacted, how my guests interacted and how I interact with them overall.
I quickly realized that this is an area in the podcasting space that is still pretty untapped.
There were not many people in the world doing what I was doing.
There was a huge opportunity for stories that needed to be told but were not really being told.
Why a Local Podcast Is Great?
Think of how many real estate podcasts or marketing podcasts there are. Think of how many podcasts about podcasting there are! So many, right?
I am not saying you should not start this show. If that’s what you are passionate about, go for it.
But in this local podcast niche, I am pretty much the only person doing it. In fact, I am the best in the business doing this show about New Jersey.
I am lucky because New Jersey is pretty small, which means I can get from top to bottom in two and a half hours without traffic.
That means I can cover a larger geographic area, which opens up a lot of opportunities.
If you have a local business or a business that caters to local businesses, why not start a show that celebrates local businesses?
Why not go out and talk to nonprofits to see what they are up to in your area?
Then use that to make your show more successful.
You Don’t Have To Build A Community From Scratch
They list all the big guests they have had on their show!
And as listeners, we think: “I have heard that name on other podcasts.
But have you heard of Leia Gaccione, Manny Cabo, Courtney Rosell, Tim Wright and so on? These are people I have had on my show who are doing amazing things here in New Jersey.
Their stories have been told in some ways, but not consistently.
Since 95% of my listeners live here in New Jersey, that’s another opportunity for me, because my listeners are part of my community.
And one of the things people talk about when they start a podcast is building a community. But the cool thing about a local podcast is that the community already exists.
That’s something that people sometimes overlook.
There’s already an established community of people who live there. And in most cases, the people who live in a particular community, whether it’s a state, a city, or a town, are proud of where they live.
If you just look in your backyard, you’ll find that there are a lot of cool things happening there.
Whether it’s a nonprofit doing great things or a neighbor who competed on The Voice or Top Chef, people want to know!
Now that I have explained the benefits of why you should start a local podcast and be your friendly neighborhood podcaster, let us get into the three C’s.
Here is how to start your own local podcast. You need to connect, celebrate and collaborate.
They are busy working hard on their business, paying their bills and feeding their families.
They are not ones to just hang out.
One of the biggest challenges for me has been getting in touch with local business owners.
Right now, there are a lot of issues going on in the small business community, and it’s my job to solve them.
So I make sure they know I am only asking for an hour of their time.
I have a couple of Road Pod microphones, a Zoom PodTrack P4, and a Cannon camera that I recently bought.
I used to just set up a laptop with a webcam on it. But I figured we should make it a little more professional.
Going Out Of My Way
So, we do not do anything on Zoom. We do it all on location.
Obviously, that brings some challenges. If you watch the video version of this podcast (linked at the top of this page), you’ll notice that I am at a brewery.
It’s closed today, but I am sure you can hear some ambient noise.
There are some kegs being cleaned and beer being brewed back there. But I wanted to make it real, so you have an idea of what to expect when you record these episodes.
I recorded episodes in a restaurant that was being renovated because I wasn’t going to be able to talk to the chef for months after it opened. I recorded an episode blindfolded while being led around town by a Seeing Eye dog and a trainer.
Noisy diners, episodes out in the field, you name it! That’s what I have to do as a local podcaster,
And now I would recommend you do that because it’s a lot easier for you to say, “Hey, I know you are going to be in there. It might be the day that you are closed, but you still have some things to do for your business.
I’ll come by that day for an hour, we will record, then I’ll be out of your hair. Then I’ll post it and that’s it.”
The shiny ball syndrome does not necessarily exist in this field. If you want to do it perfectly, you can.
But I have found in talking to my communities that they like the ambient sounds and things going on because it makes them feel like they were there when the episode was recorded.
So we got in touch with them and planned an episode. Now we are going to celebrate.
There is one other thing you can do to build trust with your guests.
Either before or after recording, have a beer at their brewery, go out to eat at their restaurant or volunteer with that non-profit organization.
We celebrate local businesses and try to support them. That’s why we do not charge anybody to come to the show.
Of course, that’s a financial challenge for people like me, but I think when you do that, you show people that you are real and authentic.
And that’s what I do. I love New Jersey.
I love the people I deal with because it’s the most densely populated state in the country, but it’s also the most diverse.
So I get to hear a lot of different stories. Go out to dinner, have a beer, and have a conversation with them.
Post about it because you have a chance now. You are not one of those over-the-top, local influencers who are basically charging money to post on their Instagram page about an event.
I also want to make sure I vet them for my listeners and make sure they are reputable businesses.
At the time of this post, I have 36 episodes and counting and every single one of these businesses is legit.
But if you are looking for sponsors, this is an opportunity to collaborate with your guests or other businesses.
If they know that 95% of your listeners are in New Jersey, this seems like a good podcast to support.
Another way I have had a lot of success is collaborating with my podcast guests on events.
For example, I did a free event earlier this year. I asked my guests to support us.
Five different restaurants donated food for the event. 14 other guests donated raffle prizes that you could just enter a name for to see if you could win some really cool prizes.
I was excited to see how many people we would actually reach at such an event.
We ended up with 85, and that’s in less than six months of doing this show! That’s when I realized that there was an opportunity not only for me as the host of Greetings From the Garden State but also for my guests to earn some extra money.
It’s also a way to collaborate and get involved in your community.
This year we have organized a Jersey Rock yoga class.
We will also likely be hosting an Oktoberfest dinner at a fancy restaurant here in town.
So keep working to grow your community, your social channels, your YouTube channel and your listeners. Now you have the opportunity to get them to support you and meet you in person because that’s another important thing.
Listeners feel more connected to you and the guests you have at these events. That’s one of the main reasons I have had success monetizing the show.
If you are thinking of starting a podcast, or if you are a little burned out with your current show like I was, after over 140 episodes in my original show.
You are now wondering what you are going to do next. “What’s hot? What’s going to get me the biggest name guest I can get?” Well, why not just start in your backyard?
If you know some business owners, non-profits or other cool people in your town, start there.
Become the mayor of your city and spread your message.
Get your face out there, make your voice heard and people will listen to you. You’ll be amazed at how many stories you’ll hear, not just the stories you hear, but how quickly you can engage in a community that already exists!
About Mike Ham
In July of 2020, Mike Ham burst onto the podcasting scene with his original show, The Morning Spotlight, which has posted over 130 episodes to date. Mike would interview high-level business and real estate professionals, Olympic athletes, Super Bowl champions, musicians, and other high-performing individuals so they could share their stories with his audience. An energetic, passionate, and curious interviewer, Mike creates lasting and memorable bonds between his guests and his audiences. Mike was born and raised in New Jersey and decided to start a podcast dedicated to his home state.
In October 2021, he launched Greetings From the Garden State, where he travels around New Jersey interviewing local businesses, nonprofits, and other notable residents, exploring one story at a time. He’s worked with guests that have appeared on television shows like “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives,” “Titan Games,” and “Top Chef” and has held in-person, community-building events to connect his audience with his guests.
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