Podcasting Made Sense to Jennifer
It took Jennifer ten years to start her blog, 6ft Mama, but it took her just a week to begin podcasting. Jennifer's husband left for a one week business trip and when he came back, she had a podcast! In 2013, Jennifer discovered the Stitcher app and searched for gardening podcasts. There weren't any on there and she knew she was the lady to fill that gap. In just one week, she had her intro, already contacted potential guests, and ordered about $1,000 worth of equipment on Amazon.
Jennifer felt comfortable diving head first into the space because, although she is an avid gardener, she does have a techie side to her (as well as a background in TV and radio).
Fast forward to today and she has over 580 podcast episodes on iTunes. What makes her unique compared to other garden podcasts in the space is her long-form show. She often goes over two hours on each episode and, guess what, her audience loves it! For those experts out there who tell you to keep your podcast at a certain length, just remember Jennifer Ebeling from the Still Growing podcast breaks those rules and is very successful at it.
Building a Strong Community of Raving Fans and Avid Gardeners
Jennifer has a very engaged Facebook group. At the time of this writing, she has a little over 700 members in the group and they're constantly posting updates and questions about their garden. One thing Jennifer has noticed over the years is that it doesn't matter whether you've been a gardener for a year or 25 years, gardeners never feel like they know 'enough'. She started the Facebook group back in October of 2016 and it has grown into a booming community, with both listeners and the podcast guests joining the group.
Listeners have a unique opportunity by joining the group because they can ask Jennifer's guests personal questions in the community and have it actually answered by them! As Jennifer's gift to the podcast guests for joining, she lets them promote anything they want. Of course, as she says, many of her guests do not abuse this and the group is very respectful towards each other's time and advice. On her show, she also gives between 10-30 minute highlights of what has happened in the group and it's quite amazing to hear a podcast host say your name and give you shout outs! Her absolute dedication to her audience is what keeps them coming back for more.
Podcasting and Raising 4 Children
Jennifer is the mother of four teenagers and, as many parents know, that's a full time job in itself. She often drives them to school and to their respective hobbies (basketball, piano classes, etc), so it's a wonder how she works on her podcast, attends to her listener community, and gets her gardening done; which she also says is a full time job.
In fact, Jennifer estimates she spends roughly 30 hours on her podcast each week. It's a lot of work, but she wouldn't have it any other way!
When it comes to editing her show, which admittedly takes most of her time, Jennifer listens to the raw audio file and edits it before she sends her show off to Eric, the audio engineer. Then, after she receives the edited version, she tweaks it once more. She says she wishes that the editing process was just a once-and-done event, but she simply can't let it go unless it's been listened to at least twice. Her children are used to hearing her show on their way to school and have become mini editors because of it. Whenever Jennifer 'goofs' her children write down the time stamp so that she or Eric can fix it in post.
In their car rides, Jennifer's children get to learn quite a lot about gardening, home grown food, and insects/mammals. This knowledge has developed some very interesting conversations between the family on their way to school and it has brought a better understanding, and appreciation, to what Jennifer does when she works on her garden.
Productivity: How Does She Do It?
Jennifer has become savvy with delegating and leveraging technology to help her cultivate resources for her community, her show, and her garden. When I sat down to chat with her, she was more than helpful to share her productivity tips. The top 3 things she uses to keep her community updated on garden news is Feedly, IFTTT, and Evernote.
She is subscribed to many garden-related news sources on Feedly and often tweets out interesting things her community might enjoy. Whenever she tweets, she has IFTTT (If Then Than That) connected to her Twitter and it automatically gets sent to Evernote, where she will use those resources to include in her podcast and in her garden community. Jennifer is always on social media reading and listening to garden-related news.
When it comes to managing her garden, she is partnered with her local school to have student gardeners come over and learn how to care for the plants. This helps her care for her garden and it puts her in a prime position to teach others how, and why, the garden is so important for our world. On her podcast, she even dedicates an episode to how you can make your gardening experience much more productive.
Thoughts From Eric Begay:
Eric has been the audio engineer on Jennifer's podcast since May of 2017 and one of the things he's noticed is Jennifer's speaking voice. “Jennifer is a really good speaker. I think she may script everything out, not sure.” He continues to say, “One thing I really like about her is there's no actual content editing. I don't have to fix things. Out of the whole two hours she records, what may need some editing as far as fixing some ahs and ums, pauses, and audio glitches with the call.”
When I asked Eric what was challenging about editing a long-form podcast like Jennifer's, this is what he had to say. “When I get the raw files,” Eric says, “They're usually about 3 hours long total. By the time I'm done editing I take out about 30-45 minutes of just pauses in there. There's hundreds of pauses and because of it you have to make her (and her guests) sound like a continuous interview. That's the challenging part there.”
As far as the topic of the show, Eric has learned a ton about gardening and the various plants out there that exist. He says, “I always get curious about these plants she names. These different things she has in her garden. I get curious, like, one that really stood out that I never heard of was the 'Jack in the Pulpit'.” When he heard of that plant for the first time, he had to pause what he was doing and look it up. “I went to Google and Googled it and literally it does look like a Jack in a pulpit. It's pretty funny.”
Another thing Eric has noticed with Jennifer's show is the ability she has to convert it from a hobby to a business. Here's Eric discussing Jennifer's business sense, “Because she built such a huge community, I didn't know this about, I guess, the business sense when you build a podcast. How big of a community she's built and just how excited she is about it.” He continues to say, “Really, that's what excites me too is just the many different angles that she does to bring traffic to her podcast and make a business out of it.”
“You're not just learning about plants, you're also learning about her business too. If you really listen closely to how she curates information and delivers that free information and then she takes that free information to get traffic to her website. You get to learn the business sense about her and learn plants, learn how to garden, at the same time.”
Thoughts From Ayn Codina:
I've been Jennifer's copywriter for the podcast since August of 2016. Yes! It's been over a year of gardening. I remember when Jennifer first started her Facebook group. She was so consistent with it even when she had less than ten members. She always told people the benefits of why you should join during the intro of every show and she kept up with it.
I didn't join her group until a couple of months later. She had all these interesting resources that I couldn't help but check out. I am not much of a gardener, but both my parents left city life to raise farm-ish animals, like chickens and goats, and with that came a passion for gardening. Whenever I listen to her podcast, I am reminded by why my parents love to grow and also why they freaked out that one time when my dog ate their big, ripe, and juicy tomatoes they spent months pining over and loving.
Actually, when I first joined her group, I heard my name on her show thanking me for joining. It was a shock. I mean, how many times do you hear your own personal name on a show? It was a nice added touch and she does this with every member who joins the Facebook community.
Also, what's really neat about working on Jennifer's podcast is that she thanks the Podfly team towards the end of her podcast on every episode and I get to hear my name there as well! I've saved clips of it and bragged about it to my friends, who still don't think I have a real job.
There have been a lot of really great episodes from Jennifer. There are two I really, really enjoy and keep coming back to. The first is when Jennifer and guest Dawn Pape talked about educating children about bees. I really like bees and that episode was really educational on why they're important for our environment. The second one which is by far my favorite of all time is her Basil Mania episode. Oh. My. Gosh. If I could scope bucket loads of pesto into my mouth, I would die a happy death. It's on my list to try some of those pesto recipes because they sound to die for. If you love pesto or basil, then her episode is a MUST to listen to.