Podcasting Has a Diversity Problem. Here Are Some Ideas for Fixing It.

Arielle Nissenblatt | SquadCast.fm Podcast Recording Software

Arielle Nissenblatt has created probably the best job in the world — professional podcast listener. She is the founder and head curator of the EarBuds Podcast Collective, a network that promotes podcasts and audio content through a curated weekly newsletter, podcast, and events.

Arielle is also the marketing and business development manager at Castbox, where she runs social media and helps podcasters with discoverability.

Through EarBuds, she’s created a platform to showcase creators who are pushing the envelope.

“I love when people get super creative with how many podcasts there are out there and how amazing the content is out there and how niche it can get,” she says on an episode of Between 2 Mics. “I think it’s so amazing.”

Pro tips from a professional podcast listener

Arielle has turned a love of podcasts into a career promoting and helping audiences discover great podcasts they otherwise wouldn’t find.

Though we didn’t book Arielle on the podcast in response to the reaction to our initial advisory board announcement last year, we were happy the opportunity presented to have a more in-depth discussion about diversity in the industry and our role in promoting diversity as a startup.

Here are her tips on boosting creativity and diversity in podcasting.

1. Audio is a unique opportunity for meaningful content

Audio as a medium has carved out a new way for content creators to engage an audience.

“Podcasts have made me way more of an empathetic person,” Arielle says, echoing how a lot of us feel about the medium. “They’ve exposed me to stories I would never otherwise come across…Podcasts are an amazing way to get right into your brain with whatever you’re listening to.”

That intimacy, combined with the newness of the medium, makes podcasting an important platform for experimentation and creativity.

“I think a lot of people fall on the easy things that make money and are safe, and that is so understandable,” Arielle says. “…but, also, the podcast industry is so new. So let’s get weird with it.”

She encourages would-be and new podcasters to listen first. Listen to a range of podcasts to see what’s out there, learn what works, what audiences like, what others are doing — and what they’re not doing that leaves an opportunity for you to create something unique.

If you’re not going to think outside the box, she asks, “what’s the point of this whole thing if we’re not trying to actually create meaningful content?”

2. Podcasting can set the standard for diversity in media

Lack of diversity is a problem in every industry. But, Arielle points out regarding promoting women in podcasting, the industry is well poised to set a better standard because it’s so young.

“In podcasting, we’re in a unique spot, because we’re still in the infancy,” she says. “I actually think right now is the time for us to be so vocal about it [the lack of gender diversity] and to call out when we see problems, because that means that we can nip them in the bud early.”

Because we’re still developing as an industry, podcasters and other audio creators have an opportunity to learn from and avoid the mistakes of other industries.

“There are tons of media companies being created by women — for women, as well as for everyone else,” Arielle explains. “And those are awesome, and we need more of those to combat the fact that in other industries, that has not been the case.”

3. Diversity starts with the pipeline

Arielle points out a common cop-out for any company’s inability to add women to its leadership and workforce: living in a bubble.

“The excuse is often that ‘we knew a lot of men prior, so obviously those are going to be the people that we call on,’” she says.

When companies fail to hire women leaders, the problem is not a lack of talented women in any industry. Instead, when representation misses the mark, it’s a pipeline issue — a lack of focus on reaching outside of our bubble and building a diverse network in the first place.

So, build a better pipeline.

Arielle’s simplest tip to help us adjust our mindset about gender diversity is to overcompensate.

“If you think you need to talk to five women, triple that, talk to 15 women, get 15 perspectives,” she says. “…If you think you need one woman on your board, triple it.”

We also, across industries, need to stop thinking of women “just as people who can represent the women’s perspective of something,” Arielle says.

4. Don’t be afraid to speak up

We’re grateful to everyone in the podcast community who, like Arielle, reached out to share their thoughts on how our advisory board announcement made them feel and how we can move forward in a better direction.

Arielle points out, “We need everybody to be calling out injustice when they see it,” because that’s how we’re going to catch and correct these blind spots.

For more useful advice on diversity in podcasting from Arielle Nissenblatt, listen to this episode of Between 2 Mics. Be sure to subscribe to get future episodes directly in your preferred podcast player.

How Bradley Denham Taught Himself to Be a Podcast Pro

Bradley Denham | SquadCast.fm Podcast Recording Software

Bradley Denham’s journey from small-town Indiana teenager to podcasting pro started with a recording studio in his family’s kitchen — but in this original set-up, he was laying down music tracks instead of conversations.

“At one point, we took the kitchen table out because I was doing so much drum recording that we just needed a space to set up all the drums,” Bradley says on an episode of Between 2 Mics. “Obviously, that didn’t pan out.”

Growing up in a musical family with a guitar-playing father, Bradley dreamed of being a music producer. He saved the earnings from his high school job working on a neighboring farm to purchase the gear for his DIY kitchen studio. Although he’d tried his hand at playing instruments and starting bands himself, he admits he wasn’t very good.

“I was always fascinated by the technical aspects of it,” he says of making the pivot away from playing music. “So I bought the equipment and learned how to use it. It was enough to get the ball rolling.”

Years later, it’s safe to say Bradley is most definitely still on a roll. Today, he’s the Head of Audio Productions at Kast Media, a full-service podcast production company. He’s also the co-founder of Clipgain.io — a one-click solution to common podcast audio woes — and the creator of Record Edit Podcast, an educational resource for podcasters.

Here are a few of Bradley’s best tips for breaking into podcasting — whether from a makeshift recording space in your kitchen or a fancy corporate studio.

The answers are out there — on YouTube

Bradley comes from humble beginnings, and racking up debt from a four-year college didn’t seem like a smart move for him, given his family’s financial situation.

“I didn’t feel like I had anything to lose by opting out,” he says.

To feed his interest in the behind-the-scenes operations of music production and recording, Bradley took to YouTube.

His first home recording studio was designed and built based on instructional videos from YouTube — and when he started listening to podcasts for fun and began to wonder what it would be like to make them, he turned to the site again to get a handle on the basics and beyond.

“That led to the YouTube rabbit hole of, like, okay, so how do you mix dialogue?” Bradley recalls. “What’s the broadcast standard of volume for podcasts? I remember looking all this stuff up.”

Bradley’s rise from audio newbie to podcast production expert is a testament to all of the information that’s readily available online — if you’re willing to look for it.

Listen to a lot (like, a lot) of podcast content

Armed with the technical know-how he picked up from YouTube, Bradley’s next step in transitioning his interest from producing music to producing podcasts was to listen to podcasts — and a lot of them.

His goal? To get in touch with the teams behind the shows and ask for an opportunity to test his newfound skills.

“When I first got started, I would comb through iTunes, downloading all the small shows that would interest me,” he says. “I knew the top dogs were basically untouchable, but anything that only had a few reviews on iTunes, I thought I might stand a chance if I reached out.”

Bradley looked at each listening session as an audition of sorts. He listened carefully to the many episodes he downloaded and identified shows that could use extra help with evening up volume, compression, and more.

Cold pitching is cool

To prove the value of his production services to the podcasts he was listening to in those early days, Bradley would download 30-second clips, edit them for quality, and send them in a “before and after” format to the hosts and creators of each show.

“That’s actually how I got my first real client, just through cold pitching a show on iTunes,” he says. “It’s been this wild ride of deciding that you want something and then pouring all of your energy into it.”

Even Bradley’s current position at Kast Media can be traced back to cold pitching. Given his lifelong love of music, it should hardly come as a surprise that he started listening to a podcast called The Modern Musician. The show was created by Colin Thomson, who was also building Kast Media at the time. Bradley reached out to Colin, asked for an opportunity to show off his skills, and “the rest is really history.”
Today, Bradley is responsible for interfacing with talent on Kast’s many big-name podcasts (On Purpose with Jay Shetty, Impaulsive with Logan Paul, and the Tai Lopez Show, to name a few) and making sure their audio is of the highest quality.

High-quality audio comes down to headphones and microphone

He might work with the biggest and best in the biz, but Bradley assures aspiring podcasters in his Record Edit Podcast courses that clean audio is accessible for pretty much anyone.“The quality that we get at a high level isn’t unobtainable to the everyday guy, because it literally comes down to two things,” he says. “A dynamic microphone and some sort of headphones.”

Yes, it’s really that simple. A dynamic microphone and some manner of headphones (not a speaker).

“Just get one of those mics and plug it into your computer,” Bradley says. “You’re done!”

For more practical tips on learning about podcast production and making it in the biz from Bradley Denham, listen to this episode of Between 2 Mics. Be sure to subscribe to get future episodes directly in your preferred podcast player.

How This Horror Podcaster Turned His Podcast Into a Book

Scott Bradley | SquadCast.fm Podcast Recording Software

Scott Bradley isn’t your stereotypical podcaster.

Before diving into creative work, the former Silicon Valley tech recruiter spent years hustling at a handful of startups. But the work became draining.

“Even though I was really good at the job, I hadn’t talked about what I was passionate about for about a decade,” he says on a recent episode of Between 2 Mics. “I was marketing other people’s stuff, but I wasn’t really doing anything for me.”

Scott says he always loved movies and remembers being very animated when he talked about film.

Burnt out on the tech grind, Scott consulted a coach to see how he could parlay his interest in the arts — horror storytelling, in particular — into a new career. The coach suggested podcasting.

“I didn’t even know what a podcast was!” Scott says. “The coach said to me, ‘It’s like on-demand radio. You have a good voice. You want to tell stories. It’s a really cheap way to do that. And it sounds like what you want to do is communicate with people,’” Scott explains.

That was all the convincing Scott needed.

Now, Scott hosts Hellbent For Horror, a scripted podcast all about his favorite topic: horror.

“I like to say I’m here to remind people that they used to love horror movies, and they secretly still do,” says Scott. “I like to talk about horror as all-encompassing. It’s not just movies — it’s books, it’s music. It’s a time-honored way of storytelling.”

In addition to earning a five-star rating on Apple Podcasts and amassing an international listenership, Scott also turned his podcast into a book, “Screaming For Pleasure: How Horror Makes You Happy and Healthy.”

Here’s how Scott grew a cult following that extends from audio to the written word —  and his advice for others who wish to follow in his footsteps.

Writing a book is not like yakking into the mic

As Scott grew the podcast, his wife (who is also his podcast producer) urged him to write a book.

“It was a natural progression from doing the podcasts to a book,” he says. “The book is a love letter to all things that go bump in the night, and how horror not only reinvents itself to reflect each generation’s anxieties, but it can also be healing, as well as thrilling.”

Since Scott taps into similar ideas in his podcast, he assumed the pivot from producing a podcast to writing a book would be easy.

“I thought, ‘Man, I got it made. All my stuff is already written. All I need to do is put a few periods and commas in there.’”

Scott quickly realized his assumption was wrong. “It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” he admits. As he got further into writing his book, he realized that writing for the eye required completely different skills than writing for the ear.

“People read differently than they listen,” says Scott. “So you need to write differently for a book than how you write for a podcast.

Podcasting is more casual and allows for more repetition, while books require a clearer, more coherent narrative. For Scott, writing an outline proved to be most helpful when navigating his book’s throughline.

Word to the wise: get a great editor

For Scott, the stakes felt much higher writing a book than producing a podcast. “The book is there forever,” he says.

“It’s a written, signed confession of your ignorance if you don’t study up on what you want to talk about,” Scott continues. “What I found was that I had a lot of opinions I needed to back up.”

Scott called on a great copy editor, who ultimately challenged some of his long-held beliefs.

Editing just makes you think about it. Like when the book came out, I wasn’t worried because I had already had my most vicious troll write to me before the book ever came out. That was my copy editor. My copy editor tore me apart.”

But that was a good thing —  and Scott learned from the experience.

“I think all books would be made better with a really good editor even if you’re a great writer,” advises Scott.

Stay open to change

Juggling writing a book, producing a scripted podcast, and networking at events IRL, Scott eventually burned out. He realized he needed to make a change.

“I was doing three original shows per month,” says Scott. “That was hardcore work because I was basically staying up all night to get them done.”

He cut back to two new podcast episodes a month. Though he was initially reluctant to scale back his production cycle, Scott’s since warmed up to the idea of building breaks between seasons.

“In the month of December, I’m going to do ‘best of’ shows and let people know that we’re coming back in January guns blazing.”

For more useful tips on how to translate a podcast to a book from Scott Bradley, listen to this episode of Between 2 Mics. Be sure to subscribe to get future episodes directly in your preferred podcast player.

This 22-Year-Old Founded a Podcast for All The Lessons You Didn’t Learn in School

Jordan Paris | SquadCast.fm Podcast Recording Software

At 22-years-old, college senior and hit podcast host Jordan Paris has plenty of wisdom to share.

A self-proclaimed “recovering awkward person,” Jordan hosts the Growth Mindset University podcast, where he interviews some of the world’s brightest minds in psychology, communication, health, and business.

“The podcast is about education,” he explains on an episode of Between 2 Mics. “The whole purpose of it is to learn lessons we should have learned in school, but didn’t.”

Jordan is also the author of “Growth Mindset University: How to Learn Anything, Take Control of Your Life, and Fulfill Your Vision of Success” and “The Podcast Playbook” where he teaches podcasters how to grow an audience and monetize their content.

Jordan has learned a lot about what it takes to produce a hit show —  his podcast has ranked in the top 10 across three categories in Apple.

Here are the top takeaways from Jordan’s journey on how to launch a create a stand-out interview podcast.

Don’t focus on getting it right — instead, simply get started

Jordan built a loyal listenership and successful brand around Growth Mindset University in just a year and a half — but he insists he fell into podcasting by accident.

“I never knew I was going to start a podcast,” says Jordan. “Even when I started studying communication, it didn’t occur to me. I don’t even remember when or why I decided to start Growth Mindset University. It just happened.”

Jordan hopped in without a plan, so the show was far from perfect in the early days. But Jordan says his learn-on-the-go attitude helped him stick with it.

“I couldn’t expect to be that good on day one, so I had to take imperfect action and grow as I go. And that’s exactly what happened,” he says.

Over time, Jordan landed interviews with the likes of James Altucher, Grant Cardone, Kevin Rudolf, and Mark Manson —  the podcast started to climb the charts. All the while, Jordan remains committed to constant improvement.

He recognizes his early episodes offer a record of how far he’s come, but he hopes new listeners tune into both new and old episodes.

Growth Mindset 101: Figuring out tone, tools and target audiences

To create a product he’s confident in, Jordan says there were “big inflection points” over the course of Growth Mindset University’s evolution.

The main one, he says, was nailing down his tone.

“I was giving general life advice, like the stereotypical wannabe life coach that spews cliche self-help advice,” he says thinking back to his early episodes. “I learned to avoid cliches like the plague.”

As Growth Mindset University evolved from conversations that “drone on and on with no gas” to polished interviews, Jordan upgraded his tools. He says another major turning point was when he switched recording software from Zoom to Squadcast. (Editor’s Note: Heyo! Thanks for the endorsement, Jordan!)

“I was on Zoom for the first 65 episodes, so I sounded like a robot,” he says. With Squadcast, Jordan is able to record with higher audio quality. But more than that, the software records hosts and interviewees on separate tracks.

“When I talked over the guest, I couldn’t edit that out,” says Jordan of interviews on Zoom. “Now, I can edit to make the interview sharper, shorter, faster —  and it captures attention so much more. It’s the little things people don’t think about, but I think about that stuff.”

Those upgrades gave Jordan the confidence to zero in on a more professional audience.

“I want to appeal to a more advanced person,” he says. “I don’t want to appeal to the beginner who’s just starting out along this journey. I want to appeal to the executives, the higher-income people.”

Yes podcaster, you should listen to your own interviews

Great interview podcasts require a skilled interviewer who can guide the conversation in interesting directions, and Growth Mindset University is no exception.

“People like to say I’m an above-average interviewer, but I think I can do so much better,” says Jordan. “I don’t listen back to my episodes in an egotistical way. I listen back so I can get better.”

Like a lot of people, Jordan feels attached to his most recent work. To combat his personal bias, he waits four weeks before critiquing his content. With some distance, he says he’s able to analyze what worked — and didn’t work — more objectively. 

“All my recent work is instantly my favorite, but four weeks later, I’m less attached to those specific episodes,” he explains.

Jordan credits his listening sessions with helping him avoid filler words, “a sign you’re not 100 percent confident in the thing you’re speaking about.”

“In the beginning, I used to edit out all my ‘ums’ and ‘likes,’” he says. “But I got sick of editing that stuff out, so I became more mindful of the words that were coming out of my mouth — not just in podcast conversations, but in everyday conversations.”

When he’s not studying himself, Jordan studies his favorite interviewers, like Larry King, Joe Rogan, and James Altucher.

“Yes, you should practice. But you should also be a student,” says Jordan.

“The idea though is not to emulate them,” he continues. “The idea is to create your own unique style, take all of your favorite things, and do what makes you the most comfortable. Because when you’re most comfortable in your seat, the other person will be most comfortable in their seat.”

For more useful tips from Jordan Paris on how to launch a podcast — and continue improving it — listen to this episode of Between 2 Mics. Be sure to subscribe to get future episodes directly in your preferred podcast player. 

The Podcast Industry’s Godfather Wants to Make Podcasting Better

Evo Terra

It’s not unreasonable to call Evo Terra the godfather of podcasting.

A podcasting pioneer, he launched his first podcast in 2004 before Apple Podcasts was even a thing. “There was iTunes, but iTunes did not involve podcasting at the time. That didn’t happen until the summer of 2005,” says Evo on an episode of Between 2 Mics.

He also co-authored “Podcasting For Dummies” and “Expert Podcasting Practices For Dummies.”

These days, Evo thinks a lot about the direction of the industry, and is most concerned with how to make podcasting better. It’s a topic he explores on his future-gazing show Podcast Pontifications.

“There are lots of tools out there that make podcasting easy, but my question about these things is, ‘Do they make it better?’” Evo says.

It could be the question he was born to ask (and answer — at least, in part). No stranger to pushing the envelope, Evo sees himself as a “professional contrarian” and observes that he’s “always been doing weird things” with podcasting.

Based on our conversation, here are three opportunities for improving the industry — and some potential solutions.

1. Podcast hosting companies need to evolve

Podcast hosting platforms are a necessary tool for podcast distribution.

“Our podcast media [hosting] company remains the lifeblood,” says Evo. “Without them, we don’t have unlimited bandwidth. Without them, we don’t have RSS feeds. And sure, we could all go out and hand code an RSS feed, but seriously, who wants to do that anymore?”

Though hosting companies are crucial, Evo believes platforms need to improve.

“As much as I love my friends at the media hosting companies, many of which I’ve known for a dozen or more years, when you peel back what their service does, it’s not designed to optimize a podcast, but to simply fill out an RSS feed,” he says.

“They don’t help us not to make mistakes,” Evo explains. “There are lots of things they’re not doing. I think it’s because they’ve been doing it for so long. It’s very difficult for them to see any way other than the conventional way they’ve been doing things since 2004.”

Rather than build a new platform from scratch, Evo says the solution is to create “lightweight, easy tools” that lay on top of existing services. 

“I’m not interested in going out and forming a new podcast hosting company,” he says. “Instead, I would like to help the podcast hosting companies understand the way people want to use their software, the people who aren’t yet using their software, why they don’t use their software, and ways to make their product better.”

A set of guidelines for users and future product development is key, Evo argues. That way the next time “a bright light bulb comes on in the podcasting world, it’s not a bumbling mess.”

2. Start with the podcasting fundamentals

There probably isn’t a podcaster out there who doesn’t want to grow their audience. But you can’t even explore the question until you hone the fundamentals of your podcasting process.

Evo says he frequently turns away potential podcast clients who tell him they want new listeners, but won’t prioritize fixing the holes in their podcast’s foundation.

“They’ll come and say, ‘Yeah, I understand all that, but how do I get more listeners?’” says Evo. “They have a tough time realizing there’s a process. It’s like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We’ve got to develop a foundation first, then start working our way up.”

Evo says podcasters don’t have to limit themselves to his favorite software or hardware in order to create professional-sounding content. Any sort of dedicated podcasting equipment will do the trick — as long as it’s used correctly.

“You should be able to make a podcast of high enough quality without buying Pro Tools and a $400 microphone,” he says. “Just because I have a $400 microphone doesn’t mean you have to have one. You just need to have one that works properly.”

3. To attract more listeners, create better podcast content

Creating a better listening experience so that podcasters deserve a larger audience is important for growing the industry overall.

Quite simply, more appealing podcasts means more listeners. A study by Edison Research found only about 20 percent of people in the U.S. are regular listeners. Those numbers are on the rise, but there’s still a massive untapped audience.

“It’s going to entice them [to listen] if we make better content, if we make that content easier to find and easier to curate,” he says.

Evo is also big on helping introduce non-listeners to content they love.

“In order for us to make sure people have a good experience with podcasting when they first encounter it, we have to make sure that we’re exposing them to really good content,” Evo says.

Evo suggests going the extra mile when trying to get someone hooked on their first podcast. He physically takes their phone, searches for podcasts within their pre-installed podcast player and plays his recommendation for them to hear on-the-spot.

But hey podcasters, that probably doesn’t mean sharing your own show with them. To turn people into podcast lovers, Evo says it’s crucial to wow new listeners by exposing them to unique content they can’t find on the radio or TV.

“Have in your back pocket three or four shows that will blow their mind,” says Evo. “When people listen to something I suggest, I want the first thing that goes through their head after 10 seconds of listening to be, ‘Wow, I had no idea this is what podcasting can be! Now I want more.’ That’s what we should give them.”

For more useful tips from Evo Terra on how to improve and grow the podcast industry, listen to this episode of Between 2 Mics.Be sure to subscribe to get future episodes directly in your preferred podcast player.

This Company Transforms Family Memories into Awesome, Custom Audio Stories

Amelia Lin

What if your family tree could talk?

Amelia Lin has always been fascinated by her parents’ backgrounds and how they grew up. So she set out to preserve their stories.

“I literally begged my parents to record their stories,” says Amelia on an episode of Between 2 Mics. “I didn’t know in what form or fashion, but I had always known that I wanted their stories to be safe for my future kids.”

She had no idea at the time, but by recording the narratives of her family tree, she was simultaneously planting the seed for a new business.

While working on her parents’ stories, she shared the experience with friends and coworkers.

“I just got so much more interest than I was expecting,” Amelia says.

Friends would tell her how they wanted to do something similar and asked for details about her process. Turns out, lots of people want a way to preserve their loved ones’ oral histories.

“I thought I was the only mushy, sentimental one that wanted something like this,” she explains.

With the demand in focus, Amelia, who has a degree from Harvard Business School and spent years working in tech, set out to build a company that produces stories from family members.

She created Keep Life Stories in 2018.

Here’s how it works: the Keep Life Stories team sends questions prompting loved ones to recall memories from the past. People answer by calling a special phone number which records their stories.

“No app needed,” she explains.

The audio storybooks are then saved and shared privately with family members. “The end experience is basically like getting a podcast of your grandma’s childhood stories,” Amelia says.

Here’s how Amelia is building a company that marries our appetite for podcasts with the stories of our roots.

Audio Is the Most Intimate Medium

Amelia says she “fell into podcasting” almost by accident. In fact, the very first version of Keep Life Stories was a book of transcripts that didn’t involve audio at all.

“Families started asking us, ‘Hey, this is really great, but can actually get the recordings of my mom. I’d love to hear her voice,’” remembers Amelia. “That was an aha moment for us.”

Amelia explored using video, but nixed the idea for two main reasons:

  1. “It was definitely more technologically complicated for older people to set up on their own,” she says.
  2. “Even more importantly, it just made people really self conscious, especially older women.”

Amelia soon discovered that recording conversations on an easy-to-use telephone line made practical sense for their older target audience. And it was easy, too — anyone can make a call from the comfort of their pajamas.

But best of all, says Amelia, audio works because it’s the most intimate and engaging storytelling tool.

“When people started asking for the recordings, we thought: there’s something here. And when you listen to the recordings, it made sense,” she says. “It was so much more emotionally powerful to hear that person talking.”

After two to three months of testing and gathering user feedback, Amelia declared audio her channel of choice.

“It’s a perfect medium for storytelling.”

If There’s a Key to Success, It Just Might Be Feedback

Amelia credits her quick success with one simple philosophy, which she applies to both business and the creative world of podcasting.

“I’m a really big believer in moving fast and getting something out the door just to get reactions to it,” says Amelia.  “There’s a tendency to want to get everything perfect — like creating the perfect baby.”

Sure, making stuff is super nerve-wracking. But Amelia urges people to push through the discomfort and get out there — fast. “If you’re embarrassed about it, get over it and just see how people react,” she says. “You’re gonna learn so much more from it.”

Amelia isn’t just paying lip service to her hard-core approach to innovation; it took her only two weeks to launch Keep Life Stories in beta. The quick turnaround time meant the product had “no user interface to speak of,” and the early stage of the company included tons of manual labor on the backend. Though that work was tedious, Amelia says it was instrumental in “immediately getting people testing.”

“We’ve learned so much from the families that we work with,” she says. “I swear, it’s like everything about the current product came directly from our users’ feedback in one way or another.”

In fact, that feedback also led Amelia to distribute the audio as podcasts. When people started asking for the audio via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other podcast distribution channels, Amelia realized she needed to meet the users where they were already consuming their audio.

“We live in a day and age where there’s now a mainstream way that people listen to longform audio in their pockets,” she says. “That’s really interesting to me.”

Use Your Competitive Edge

Despite the crowded podcasting market, Keep Life Stories’ has a distinct competitive advantage: their service is unique.

“You can hire somebody to interview your grandpa and write a memoir. That service on average costs about $10,000 per person,” explains Amelia. “As you can imagine, that’s not very accessible for the average family. And it’s a pretty particular clientele who can afford that.”

Initially, Amelia says that posed a challenge while trying to lock down their price points. But ultimately, it helped her set the company apart: “Our goal is to make it accessible,” she says.

To test different price points, she ran small Facebook ad tests. She also took cues from similar businesses that sell services designed for seniors.

“The majority of our purchases are by people buying [the service] for someone else, not for themselves,” explains Amelia.

“Everybody thinks their own story is boring, and I think we all undervalue how interesting our stories may be to other people.”

Amelia soon learned that family members were “nominating” each other to use the service, while a “disproportionate amount” of users were purchasing it as a gift to celebrate birthdays, Mother’s Day, anniversaries and reunions.

“That was very much a pattern we were seeing,” Amelia explains. “They’re not buying it for themselves to use. This is a way to honor somebody important in their lives.”

Prioritize Accessibility Now, Adaption Later

As the business continues to grow, Amelia says she’s able to keep costs and labor to a minimum by doing “almost zero post-production” on current audio diaries.

“In fact, we almost never get requests for additional post production,” she explains. “And I think that that’s because of the type of material that we’re recording.”

Amelia remembers the early days when she was interviewing her own dad, who would agonize over “pre-editing and censoring himself to get the story just right.” She wanted him to speak naturally, and it turns out users feel the same.

“With the type of material we record, people want it to be authentic and genuine,” she says. “‘Don’t don’t make my grandpa sound like something he isn’t. That’s his accent, he’s got those mannerisms, and that’s how he is.’”

Amelia says it can be tough to “walk the tightrope” between making easy, accessible audio diaries and high-quality, polished podcasts. For now, they’ve chosen to prioritize accessibility.

Looking ahead, Amelia says the company might eventually offer the service as an app.  For now, Keep Life Stories is trying to navigate the ins and outs of integration, privacy and syndication.

“The product is still so new and it’s changing in so many ways,” says Amelia.

“I’m sure we’re only halfway there. I’m sure we’re going to learn so many other things in the next couple of months. My priority is to keep bringing on people who want to give it a try and who want to help us learn so that we can keep adding features and making it better and better.”