The Indie Business Podcast Story

This post tells the story of how I got started as a podcaster, and why. I'll also share a bit about why I'm making some big changes to the Indie Business Podcast. Strap yourself in for a journey. I've come a long way, baby!

I hosted my first Internet radio show in 2005, just one year after the word “podcast” was ever used. At that time, the only person I knew of who hosted an Internet radio show was Jim Blasingame of the Small Business Advocate. He is still at it today, and so am I.

First, a Newsletter

I credit my degree in journalism and public relations for the insight that the best way to increase traffic to my website would be with an email newsletters. The first thing I did on the day I launched the Indie Business Network website was publish a newsletter. It was the smartest move I ever made in my business.

By the start of 2005, the Indie Business Network was 5 years old, and had about 75 members. I published a newsletter (here's why) once a week, and each month, I hosted a coaching call where I answered member questions and provided tips and advice on how to be successful in business. I was fortunate enough to have a website designer who helped me learn how to save the audio files from those calls to my website. It was antiquated, but it worked.

Since I had published my newsletter so successfully for so many years, and it had worked so well, it occurred to me that there may be other forms of media that would help me reach people. Back then, technology was nothing like it is today, so my options were limited.

Maybe … a Radio Show!?

I began to notice that some mainstream radio stations were streaming their broadcasts online. The subscription process was clunky and difficult to figure out, but it got me thinking. If they could do it, why couldn't I? I started to research the issue.

My search uncovered two options: World Talk Radio and Global Talk Radio, both now defunct. Global Talk Radio's owner, Kevin Dawson, who had been in the radio broadcasting industry for years, had a recording studio in his home. From the studio, for $75 per show, he could host and record a conference call interview between me and my guest, stream it live online, edit it, and publish it to his website. He could then give me an embed link I could use to stream the show to my site. (It worked like of like a YouTube embed code works today, when you want to play a YouTube video on your website.)

I did not have $75 per month, but since Oprah hadn't called to feature me in her magazine (she still hasn't called by the way), I figured I had better get busy using my own branded media outlets to publish my own content.

World Talk Radio looked good, but it was a more expensive than Global Talk Radio and they were not as responsive to my email inquiries as Kevin was. Additionally, Kevin let me host a pilot show for $25 so I could try it out. Sold! In case you're wondering why I didn't try Blog Talk Radio, it didn't exist until late 2006.

I dove in headfirst. After one pilot show, I was hooked.

From the Lifestyle CEO Show to the Indie Business Podcast

I called my show the Lifestyle CEO Show. I even circulated a press release about it. I define a Lifestyle CEO a person who owns a business, not solely for financial gain, but also to enjoy the benefits of entrepreneurship, freedom, flexibility and fun. Since those were the reasons I and most of my members started our businesses, it was the perfect name for a show that would appeal to them.

As the Indie Business Network grew in membership and recognition, I decided to leverage that brand by rebranding the Lifestyle CEO Show as the Indie Business Podcast.

A Parting of Ways

By 2009, social media was rapidly becoming the chief way for a brand to gain traction online. I took to it like a fish to water. I tried to work with Kevin and Global Talk Radio to use Twitter and Facebook to expand the reach of my show and the shows of the other Global Talk Radio hosts. I gave Kevin a little Twitter training, and hoped he would see the value.

He hated it.

(But how cool that this July 27, 2009 Tweet about my podcast still appears in Global Talk Radio's Twitter feed!)

Unlike me, Kevin was not excited about social media. I knew that Kevin's lack of enthusiasm would eventually adversely affect his business, and if it affected his business, it would affect mine. I could not let that happen.

Somewhere around this time, Kevin raised his per show price from $75 to $100. I knew it was time to move on. Global Talk Radio closed up shop shortly thereafter. I am happy to say that Kevin and I parted ways as friends, and we still connect via phone and email a few times a year.

Enter: Blog Talk Radio

In 2010, I switched to using Blog Talk Radio, but I was not happy about it. I didn't like Blog Talk Radio. It was clunky and hard to use. If you look at my show archive from the Blog Talk Radio days, you can see that the struggle was real.

I missed the days when all I had to do was interview a guest and Kevin took care of the rest.

By this time, technology had advanced significantly. While podcasting was not what I would call “popular” at the time, the technological stars had aligned in a way that made it possible for me to efficiently host a podcast, and either produce it myself or have others produce it without breaking the bank.

But alas, it was not the right time.

Exit: Blog Talk Radio

I decided to take a break from podcasting to focus on other things, including some family issues that were coming to a head.

The Return of the Indie Business Podcast

The Indie Business Podcast returned in 2013 with this short announcement. The whole process was quite a mess at the time. I had no real idea of what I would do, but I knew I had to get started again.

I missed podcasting, yet I was struggling to identify a new focus for the show. I also struggled with new technology. It was perfect if all I had to do was record a podcast, but I didn't have the time or the expertise at my disposal to do the editing and the uploading to the site and the uploading to iTunes, etc.

I attempted to solve my frustration by hosting a “real” radio show at a local radio station.

It was a bit of a disaster.

Enter: WIXE-AM: the “Mighty 1190”

Yes, that's right. I decided to become a bona fide radio talk show host at a bona fide radio station in my adopted hometown outside Charlotte, North Carolina. I figured it was the perfect complement to my new physical space, the Indie Business Studio, where I taught small business and entrepreneurship classes. I broadcasted live every Saturday morning from the WIXE studios in Monroe, North Carolina.

We were “The Mighty 1190!”

You can listen to a few of those shows, for example, here and here.

(We edited the WIXE radio information out of those shows before we published them here, because we didn't want to confuse our national audience members, who were not familiar with the local station.)

It was fun, but a total mess. I remember one day, the producer interrupted my business show for a live feed from a cattle auction. That's right folks. You cannot make this stuff up.

Without notice or warning, the station manager had the producer interrupt my business show with a feed from a local cattle auction. When I requested a partial refund of my monthly fee for the show as compensation for the interruption, he told me he would refund the whole thing because he didn't have time to talk to me. He had a radio station to run.

I'm still not sure whether he fired me or I fired him. I think we pretty much fired each other.

So much for putting my traditional journalism degree to work the the “real” world.

I hosted the final WIXE show on November 23, 2013.

I closed the studio early the next year.

Meanwhile, podcasting had grown in popularity, and with it, about a million different companies who could help you with your podcast. I was stunned to find myself so far ahead of the curve, yet so far behind it.

Adrift in a sea of too many technological options, I had to either change course quickly, or drop the Indie Business Podcast altogether.

The Newer Indie Business Podcast

By this time, I had hosted nearly 300 podcast episodes. (We are soon going to put every single one of them at this blog for you to enjoy.)

Not one to be deterred from doing something I love, and something I do so well, I soldiered on.

I announced the new Indie Business Podcast on September 17, 2014. For the first show, my guest was longtime IBN member Alana Rivera of etta + billie in San Francisco, California.

I have hosted 53 episodes since then, and now, I'm about to make some more changes.

A Note About Change

So, change. As you can see from my story, change is critical to growth. If I had not changed the name of the Lifestyle CEO Show to Indie Business Podcast, the Indie Business Network may not be what it is today.

Had I not noticed the need to switch from Global Talk Radio, my Indie Business Podcast might not exist now.

If I had not used Blog Talk Radio (even though I disliked it), the show may have lost momentum altogether.

Had I not taken a break to deal with personal issues, I may have lost momentum altogether from a personal perspective.

While this blog post has summarized the story of the Indie Business Podcast, it's really a post about change and why we should always embrace it.

Do not allow your brand to stand still. Explore new things. Make mistakes.

Have a disaster now and then.

Today: the Newest Indie Business Podcast

Starting with my next episode, Indie Business Podcast will go back to its roots with interviews of authors and speakers who are experts in a field that can help your business grow.

The main reason I'm making this change is to make way for the Maker Mastermind Show, a new live video show featuring interviews with Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs.

The first Maker Mastermind show was hosted last week, and you can watch the replay in our free Maker Mastermind Facebook group. That show featured Indie Business Network member Adora Winquist of Adoratherapy in Asheville, North Carolina. Adora's products are sold in natural food stores, boutiques and spas nationwide, and she shares amazing insights about how to manage and lead a successful Maker business.

Indie Business Podcast had been designed to interview Makers, which is what the new Maker Mastermind Show does. To avoid having two shows with the same focus, I have decided to feature Makers on the video show, and feature authors and small business speakers and experts on the podcast.

I love the idea of using video to feature Makers because it allows me to introduce you to the Maker, as well as to his or her products. You cannot show how a product looks and works on audio, but you can on video.

It's a perfectly synergy.

The Maker Mastermind Show will stream on live video inside the Maker Mastermind Facebook group.

The Maker Mastermind Show will be live.

The Indie Business Podcast will continue to be pre-recorded, and uou can subscribe on iTunes (on iPhone) or Stitcher (via Google Play or via iTunes).

When you want to gain valuable insights from a business or personal development author or professional, you can get that on Indie Business Podcast.

When you want live peer inspired coaching and inspiration (and you want to enter to win from free products!) you'll get that on the Maker Mastermind Show.

I love both of them, and I hope you will too.

What Do You Think?

So, listen, that's the plan. That's the vision of where I want things to go. Please remain open and join me. I'm still ironing out the small details, but this is the big picture. It won't be perfect at first … in fact, it will never be perfect. But I'm committed to it, and I think it will do a lot of good and serve a lot of people well.

Give me a chance, and let me know what you think in the comments below.

If the story of the Indie Business Podcast has inspired you to break all the rules, build your own corporate ladder, and create the life you love, please share on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.