Podcasts have become part of everyday listening life – and increasing numbers of translators and interpreters are finding that they are useful marketing tools.
Jason Willis-Lee gives a how-to guide
Podcasting has now become a powerful medium for getting your ideas out into the wider world . I’ve certainly found that launching my show (‘Turn yourself into a booked out freelance translator’) allowed me to serve a niche audience of online language service providers (translators, interpreters and copywriters) and showcase myself as a trusted authority in my field.
Podcasting isn’t overly complicated, but you do have to learn the skills – and equip yourself with the right tech (if you don’t, you’ll end up with something that just doesn’t cut it in today’s world: remember, your listeners have literally hundreds of professionally-produced options to listen to, so you need to be able to grab their attention – and even more importantly, retain it once it’s grabbed).
In this-how to guide, I’ll talk you through how I launched my podcast, from equipment to lining up guests – and not forgetting managing remote virtual assistants (VAs) to make the production process as seamless as possible.
There’s no excuse for not producing high-quality audio content these days. Key components include:
- A microphone: popular options include the Audio-Technica ATR2100, Shure SM7B or the Blue Yeti. These microphones provide crisp and professional sounding audio. I use the ATR2100 that has a simple plug and play USB connection to my desktop. This converts analogue audio signals into digital format.
- Headphones: closed-back headphones like the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x or Sony MDR-7506 are essential for monitoring audio quality during recording and editing. They help identify and tackle any issues in real time.
More advanced equipment
- Recording and editing: I record all episodes on the platform zencastr and my team uses the software Audacity (free for PC) to edit our podcast episodes. Other options include Adobe Audition or Garage Band (for Mac users). These tools offer a range of features for enhancing audio.
- Podcast host: we use a podcast hosting provider called Buzzsprout that costs 12-18 USD a month according to audio time uploaded. Other options are Libsyn, Podbean or Anchor to store and distribute podcast episodes on platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts (my show airs on all three).
- Sound quality tools: I’ve found quite a few of these useful. A pop filter prevents explosive consonants (such as ‘p’ and ‘b’ sounds) from causing distortions, while a shock mount isolates the microphone from vibrations. You can also improve the sound quality further by adding acoustic treatment to the recording space, such as foam sound treatment panels or bass traps. These reduce sound reflections and background noise. If you have multiple hosts or guests on your podcast, you may also want to consider a mixer, which provides more control over audio levels.
Other useful tools
Podcast guest directories can help you find the people who’re inviting! I haven’t had to use them personally, but platforms like Podcast Guests or MatchMaker.fm connect podcasters with potential guests in various niches, including language services. I do use Calendly to streamline the booking process and minimise scheduling conflicts for everyone involved.
From digital to human: VA and voiceover
When I started my podcasting, I was lucky enough to ‘inherit’ a virtual assistant (VA) from an industry friend and colleague who used to host another industry podcast, and I’ve found her extremely useful. (If I hadn’t been put in touch with her, I could have used a company like virtualstafffinder.
A well-prepared VA is a major business asset for any solo(you)preneur, so if you’re recruiting someone new do look for someone who already has relevant podcasting experience. My VA already had the experience and skills to understand my podcast’s specific requirements, niche, format and tools. For my part, I set out her roles and responsibilities from the start: researching episodes, liaising with guests, creating show notes, promoting the show on social media and/or audio editing. I also drew up a contract outlining my expectations, responsibilities, fee and confidentiality agreements: it’s really important to agree terms – including pay – and formalise the working relationship, however well you get on in person.
Regular communication is essential too; we keep in touch using tools like Loom, Zoom or Dropbox to manage tasks, deadlines and track progress. I also granted my VA access to the necessary tools and platforms, such as my podcast hosting account, social media profiles and transcription software. I always make sure my VA strictly adheres to security and privacy guidelines (especially GDPR). And I also consider it important to check in with her regularly (especially since she is based in Cebu, Philippines) so we have regular reviews using Zoom, where we share our ideas and I also aim to give her constructive feedback on how she’s doing.
Setting up a remote VA has increased my podcast’s efficiency, allowing me to focus on what I call my ‘talkaboutable edge’ (genius zone or angle of mastery) of content creation and audience engagement. On the other hand, I’m very aware that I can’t just leave it all to her! I regularly review the show notes, social media posts and edited audio to ensure the work she produces produced maintains the professional standards I’m aiming for.
On that note, I also recently had the intro and outro voiced by a professional voiceover artist. This has made the show sound more professional and allowed listeners to get to know my vibe better by means of splicing a few fun facts about me into each episode. (That’s an example of the sort of personal branding or ‘talkaboutable edge’ strategy I teach my students.)
Someone to talk to
So that’s what I use – but what about the actual show? I always envisaged a hybrid show split equally between episodes of educational content I’d provide on my own, and episodes where I’d talk to invited guests. So far, I’ve used my own networks to identify potential guests who reflect and promote the kind of image I’m keen to have in this online language service provider space. Friends, colleagues or industry connections can usually be cajoled into taking part – if I don’t know them well already I quite often reach to them through LinkedIn as well as their own email addresses, with a pitch outlining the benefits of appearing on my podcast and emphasising how their expertise adds value to my audience.( When a joint venture pitch is positioned as a win-win it’s much easier to get a guest to agree to come.) .
If and when they do agree, I provide them with information about the recording process, episode format and technical requirements – the aim is to get smooth and productive recordings, although you do also have to be prepared to switch platforms if one turns out not to work well for both parties! Recent guests have included ITI’s chair and chief executive, as well as the Bulletin editor; and they all contributed massive value and gave credibility to the show.
Never forget that finding and securing guests is an ongoing process – you need to keep getting the invites out there. However, as a podcast gains recognition, it becomes easier to attract higher-profile guests: and they in turn should help grow your audience and recognition further. Ideally, it’s a win-win for everyone.
Looking back and looking ahead
I didn’t originally plan to move into this area, but I was gifted a podcasting course as part of a fast payment option on an entrepreneurial course for consultants, so I fell into it accidentally. I´m glad I did because Turn yourself into a booked out freelance translator ‘ has now been downloaded almost 2000 times across 35 episodes. It has now turned into a very useful educational channel and my number one marketing activity for my coaching offer (https://entrepreneurialtranslator.com).
It’s not just enough to produce one good podcast: you have to produce and be known for producing a series. But by following these steps I’ve outlined above, I have been able to successfully set up a podcast in the online language service provider niche. With dedication and strategic planning, I believe my podcast can thrive in this niche and I can thrive with it.
finding and securing guests is an ongoing process – you need to keep getting the invites out there
If you’re making 3k or less a month and wondering how to move the needle book a FREE discovery call to see if I can help you move forward faster
If you think I´d make an entertaining podcast guest contact me at jason(at)entrepreneurialtranslator.com
If you’d like to pitch me to appear on my show send an email to Jason (at)entrepreneurialtranslator.com
If you haven’t done so already grab your headphones and tune in to Turn Yourself into a Booked out Freelance Translator. The show airs on Apple podcasts, Spotify and Google podcasts.