Client Feature: Jennifer Ebeling of The Still Growing Podcast

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Client Feature: Jennifer Ebeling of The Still Growing Podcast

Podcasting Made Sense to Jennifer

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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.

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@StillGrowingwith6ftmama

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

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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 she’s doing all of the different parts of her podcast, whether it’s welcoming new members to her Facebook group or talking about news within the community that she built, she does a very good job. It sounds very professional.
— Eric Begay, Audio Producer
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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.

 

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What Do Podcasters Need to Know About the iOS 11 Update?

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What Do Podcasters Need to Know About the iOS 11 Update?

September always promises the following: back-to-school excitement/grievances, the roll-out of Starbucks’ ever-popular fall menu, and the annual announcement of Apple’s latest iOS update. This year not only marks the launch of iOS 11, but also the tenth anniversary of the device that innovated smartphone touch-screen technology, not to mention podcasts themselves—the iPhone.

 

Indeed, 89% of iOS users are currently updated to iOS 10, suggesting that a decent chunk of this number will install iOS 11 as it is available for update. And it isn’t just Apple users who have their eyes on how iOS 11 will change their mobile experience—it feels as if each update shifts how our social culture communicates, iPhone user or not.

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A handful of iOS 11 features appear to be Apple catching up to its competitors by offering one-handed typing mode and wireless device charging—all features currently possessed by Google and Samsung devices. Apple’s innovation in this launch is moreso reflected in its brand-new Podcasting app, which has the potential to change how we consume and produce podcasts altogether.


 

 

What Do Podcasters Need to Know About the iOS 11 Update?

The update, released on September 19th, has some big changes and this will affect podcasters. Though for diehard podcast listeners, the Podcast App may still need some more work after this update, the way podcast hosts upload to iTunes is going to become a lot more organized. Here at Podfly, we're excited for the new changes as it means our clients get to leverage a whole new set of fantastic features.

Podcast creators are in for a treat with iOS 11’s streamlined guide from recording to launch. For example, any podcast’s cover art is essentially its “product packaging,” so Apple has allowed creators to upload a 3000x3000 JPEG or PNG image to brand their show—all while keeping the image under 500KB to save space. This is a huge improvement in keeping one’s podcast art clear and legible.

 

Submitting one’s podcast to Apple for review and approval is also a snap. All the creator needs to do is log in to the new Podcasts Connect section, copy and paste the URL of their podcast from their preferred hosting site, and voila—iOS 11 has made it that much more straight-forward to upload to their immense catalogue.

 


What Sort of Features Can Podcast Hosts Expect with the New iOs 11 Update?

There are four main features you need to care about:

  1. Seasons

  2. Trailers, teasers, and bonuses

  3. Podcast Analytics

  4. SEO/Tagging

 

Seasons

Let’s start with the launch of Episodic vs. Serial podcasts, which is how podcasts will be sorted in the new iOS 11 app. Right now, when listeners subscribe to a podcast, they receive the most recent episode downloaded to their phone. With the introduction of episodic and serial seasons, this means podcast hosts will need to include new metadata in the back end of the show (more on this later) to tell iTunes how they would like their show organized.

If listening to a stand-alone episode series such as Vicky Frasier’s Business for Superheroes, its latest episode will be shown and recommended at the top of the app, and individual episodes can also be downloaded.

If listening to a stand-alone episode series such as Vicky Frasier’s Business for Superheroes, its latest episode will be shown and recommended at the top of the app, and individual episodes can also be downloaded. As for serial seasons, podcast hosts can set it in a way that the first episode in the season is what would be downloaded first. They will also be able to download the entire season in one go, and have it be played in order from oldest to newest. It’s a simple but effective tweak, similar to competitor app Overcast’s “intelligently inserted” episodes, but its categorization presents a shift in podcasting language—we won’t be surprised if all podcasting apps eventually present their episodes this way.

 

 

Trailers, Teasers, and Bonuses

Right now, when it comes to releasing teasers and bonuses for your upcoming podcast or season, it often clutters your 'true' podcast feed and this bonus episode will stay there like any regular episode would. This can look messy and disorganized. However, with the introduction of iOS 11, hosts will now be able to release bonus audio that complements the most recent episode and it would not clutter the main iTunes feed. This is great news as this means you can introduce teasers into your show without having it interfere with the overall podcast experience.

iOS 11 is also introducing three ways to label podcast episodes: full, trailer, and bonus. Full episodes are easy enough to categorize, as they are the most standard of episodes, but serial podcasts often start their seasons off with a trailer to entice listeners to subscribe to the full series.This labeling will further streamline the user experience of locating specific episodes in their Podcast library.

 

 

Podcast Analytics

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The real game-changer in iOS 11 is the ability to access analytics. Yep, it’s now possible to see specs like the listener count, where they are, and how much of the podcast they are completing—all inside the Podcasts Connect section under the Podcast Analytics tab. By understanding these metrics, it can really be a game changer to how you implement ads or even how long your show should -really- be.

Good analytics play a big part for several of our clients; it's what allows them to get sponsors and push their show to new markets. Right now, if you'd like to know how many times your show has been downloaded, you will have to go into your podcasting hosting provider. However, that's as far as the analytics go. Stats is a very difficult thing to track in the podcasting world and hopefully Apple will make it easier for everyone involved to hone down on their numbers and get to know their audience a lot better.

 

SEO/Tagging

As mentioned in the seasons part of the article, in order for you to properly organize your show, you have to go into the back end and update the metadata so that iTunes understands how you'd like your show to be classified (episodic or season). Our good friend Daniel J. Lewis wrote an excellent piece on how to use the iOS 11 podcast tags effectively, which you should definitely check out.

 

For those of you doing the math, yes, podcasters with over 50+ podcast episodes will be looking at quite a bit of tedious work in order to get their podcast iOS 11 ready. However, the good news is Podfly will be offering services to help take care of all that post-organizational 'blah' in your show backlog. Feel free to reach out to us if you'd like more information.


 

How to transition appropriately on your hosting provider:

Apple.com offers a handy list of hosting sites that support the app for creators to choose their best option, as well as helping creators out with marketing by offering their Identity Guide. Creators can take advantage of the Listen on Apple Podcasts badge by placing it on their podcasting website or various social media channels, linking their content immediately with just one click.

 

We reached out to Podbean, Bluburry, and Libsyn about how they're preparing for the new changes and this is what they had to say:

Podbean

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"We're excited to see the rollout of the iOS changes which seem to be podcaster (and listener) friendly. We expect they'll help podcasters better organize their content for listeners, and perhaps help with the Apple podcasts search process. It's worth every podcaster taking a look at the updates and seeing how they might want to incorporate changes into their tags, titling system, etc. Shortly after the announcement, we upgraded the Podbean platform so podcasters could begin preparing for the new feed tags. As the system rolls out and more changes come, we'll keep abreast of them to help podcasters navigate them." --David Xu, CEO, Podbean LLC

The Podbean blog has an excellent post on how podcasters can get ready for the new iOS 11 changes.

 

 

Bluburry

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“iOS 11 will give podcasters additional ways to highlight and organize their episodes. Those running seasons or serial content have some great new ways to display their shows in the Apple Podcast App. It is evident Apple is listening to the community as a whole and this is a response to that feedback. The new Apple Podcast App statistics that they will be providing at the end of the year will also give podcasters additional data to share with prospective sponsors and give them insight on how their show is being consumed on the App by their listeners.” Todd Cochrane, CEO, Bluburry.

Bluburry has an article on how to setup your iTunes podcast settings for iOS 11.

 

 

Libsyn

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“The key to iOS 11 and Version 3.0 of the Podcasts App is understanding the new iTunes tags and what Apple wants to see shows do and not do. They do not want to see your show’s title or an episode number in the episode title any more. To that end, they’ve created a new field called - iTunes Title."

If normally you had some initials for your show title and the episode number in your episode title (normal practice to help sight impaired users) - such as this:

‘Tii 0441 - September 12th Event - iPhone 8, 8+, X and iOS 11 Gold Master’

This can remain your main title in your feed - but for the iTunes title Apple just wants to see this:

‘September 12th Event - iPhone 8, 8+, X and iOS 11 Gold Master’

There is a new iTunes summary - which is a quick description of that episode.  Plain text - not special characters or links. If you have episode numbers - add them in as well for the new episode number field. If your show has seasons - add those in as well. And now - there is also a tag for iTunes author for that specific episode. If a show has guests - include the host and the names of all of the guests for that episode in iTunes author.  

Apple is helping producers clean up their shows so they look better in iTunes. Libsyn has added in ALL the iTunes tags, so producers can follow the advice from Apple and clean up their shows.” - Rob Walch, VP of Podcaster Relations, Libsyn.

Libsyn has a live webinar going over the latest iTunes Tags (and more) in the Libsyn publishing platform.

 



According to Apple Podcasts Business Team manager James Boggs, consumers get excited by podcasts that “entertain, inform, and inspire” us. Boggs predicts a 20% growth of content in their Podcast catalogue all thanks to these key iOS 11 update, and Podfly will continue to monitor how this launch affects not only Apple’s market share, but podcasting itself. We predict we’ll be wearing shades to handle such a bright future.

 

 

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How to Rebrand Your Podcast with Jessica Rhodes

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How to Rebrand Your Podcast with Jessica Rhodes

Last week was another reminder of how much I adore podcasting. I had the opportunity to visit the Interview Connections office and podcast studio in Warwick, RI. Jessica and her team were warm, gracious and welcoming. Taking advantage of the visit, I was invited to appear on the freshly, rebranded show Interview Connections (formerly Rhodes to Success), where Jessica and Margy help their listeners "rock both sides of the mic". 

Check it out!


Given their recent rebrand, they snagged me on mic for a quick, 30-minute show to discuss:

  • What’s the difference between a rebrand and a tune-up?

  • What does it mean to rebrand?

  • How do I rebrand my podcast?


You can find Jessica and her awesome team over at InverviewConnections.com

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Podcast Hosting with Podbean - an Alternative to Libsyn?

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Podcast Hosting with Podbean - an Alternative to Libsyn?

We're back with another post, as we continue to review the various podcast hosting platforms available on the Internet. In case you missed it, check out the pieces I wrote on how to best move your podcast off SoundCloud with Libsyn and Buzzsprout.

In this insightful post, we dive into Podbean's free podcast hosting services and address some of the concerns the podcast community has expressed with them. I know when I was personally looking through Podbean reviews, it didn't look pretty.

They also didn't look very recent either, with the most recent negative review written in 2012. Old, but still relevant? Maybe. I decided not to leave it up to chance and reached out to Shannon, the Director of Communications for Podbean, to get directly to the source of the issues their past clients have had with them.

 

The Top Two Most Common Complaints about Podbean

It's not a good sign when the first few spots on Google, for 'Podbean Review', are negative. It's also not a good sign that they're all outdated, as I couldn't find anything that was relevant in the 2015-2016 time period. The two biggest concerns and negative remarks that I extracted out of Podbean were:

  1. Their inability to give you control over your own RSS feed. This means that once you give your RSS feed to Podbean, it's theirs forever and you won't be able to get it back; essentially forcing you to start all over. New podcast, new following, and a brand new iTunes page. Ack!
  2. Their terrible customer service offered by non-native English speakers on, with the lack of ‘know-how to fix’ what should be simple solutions. There's nothing worse than dealing with Comcast-esq customer service, questions unanswered, and a support team that doesn't respond to cancellations.

But as I mentioned at the beginning of the article, these reviews are old...way old. They shouldn't even be mentioned in this article, but I know our audience is bound to come across what I found on Google, so it needs to be addressed.

 

According to Podbean, These Problems Have Been Fixed

Shannon was quick to address the concerns I mentioned above, and frankly, after seeing her in-depth response and the various actions taken by her and her team, I feel Podbean is on a fast track to success.

Podbean has already fixed problem number one, and now users are able to move off their platform should they wish. For those who are interested in switching to Podbean services, Shannon offered this helpful article - How to Set a New Feed.

In regards to problem two, Shannon did mention that the company no longer offers phone support. Instead, customers can contact them via email or live chat. Their live chat isn't 24/7, but it does cover around 20+ hours or so. If you can't reach support via live chat, then email is the second best form of communication, of which they quickly reply to. Shannon acknowledges that their customer service was horrible in the past and said Podbean has made major improvements in that regard. Here is what she had to say to me via email:

We have made major improvements to support and have a much more experienced/long-term team now. Of course, no company’s perfect and sometimes they run into complexities, etc. Fortunately—and this is what I think is great about us—me and David (CEO) review twice/week with the team (and more as needed) and help them address any issues, reply to customers having difficulty, help them improve responses, etc.

I (and our community manager, Jennifer) try to be pretty active on social media too, in order to help podcasters. We explain that our Support Twitter isn’t monitored constantly for support requests, so direct contact to Support is best, but we interact consistently with our customers (and other podcasters)—not only for problems, but to proactively help them with resources, marketing ideas, promotion etc.
— Shannon Martin - Podbean Director of Communications

 

What's Great About Podbean?

One of the main reasons why podcasters prefer Podbean over other podcast hosting service platforms is affordability. Their unlimited audio plan goes for as low as $9 a month, with their annual sign up package. They are currently preparing to offer HLS to podcasters who provide video of their interviews as well.

   Podbean is an easy and powerful way   to start podcasting. Everything you need. No   technology to learn.

Podbean is an easy and powerful way to start podcasting. Everything you need. No technology to learn.

Podbean seems to be a perfect option for those that have very little technical knowledge. The platform provides easy-to-use tools that can help set up an attractive podcast page. Shannon told me that Podbean is the first host to provide a blog-like platform/page for podcasters. Shannon also believes their back-end editor is simpler to use than WordPress's editor, which can be a huge bonus to some. If you're an independent hobby podcaster without a website, then this option could be ideal for you.

If you already have a website for your podcast, then no problem. The site makes it easy to redirect the feed to your own website, so those who are seeking a little more customization will be glad to know that they're not stuck to Podbean's platform.

Here's the interesting thing about Podbean. They offer affordable integrated monetization. This is what Shannon had to say about it:

We were one of the first hosts (and still, the most affordable—taking only a 15% revenue share with no upfront fees) to offer premium content options (subscriptions or fees for single, “bonus” episodes) and we are the only one to offer integrated crowdfunding (patron support).

CF is also available to podcasters who host anywhere, and I think this is a hidden gem! The great thing about our program is the page pulls in your RSS so it looks great with recent episodes shown there—and for Podbean podcasters, the “become a patron” button is automatically on their page (others can get our pre-formatted buttons, super simple to put on their pages).

Also, if their listeners listen in our apps, the buttons will be there right on the screen so no extra steps, telling them a separate site to go to later etc. CF was so going at first, but we’re really seeing it be more widely adopted and many people are doing quite well with it. Look for something special in the advertising space to be coming soon as well!
— Shannon Martin

 

Finally, I'd like to mention that Podbean does something unique that other podcast hosting service providers don't do as proactively, which is to promote their clients’ content regularly. Podbean promotes 5 podcasts each week on their homepage and in their app, giving their clients some great exposure. They also do regular shout-outs on social media. I like that they do this a lot, because it means they really do care about what their customers have to say and what they are putting out into the world.

I recommend that you check out Podbean, as it seems some of the major problems they had in the beginning have been fixed and that they're actively working towards building a stronger community and service.

 


About Podfly

We are a boutique podcast production service that creates beautiful sounding audio and highly descriptive and well-crafted show notes. We have a small team of audio engineers and writers to help perfect your podcast and make it sound great. If you're starting from scratch, we can teach you how to set up your audio equipment and craft an excellent podcast with intros and outros included. You can contact me at Ayn@Podfly.net for more information or reach us through Podfly's contact form.

 

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See You At Podcast Movement!

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See You At Podcast Movement!

Podfly is happy to see everyone, new and old, at Podcast Movement this year. We've got some exciting things coming your way, but be sure to stop by our booth to say hi! Our two co-founders Corey and David will be at the booth along with team members Aty and Eric. 

By the way, Corey will be speaking at Podcast Movement this Friday the 8th at 9:15am in the Columbus GH hall. He will be discussing podcast editing from start to finish and will be giving you a walk through on how to take raw content and polish it into a professional sounding podcast - all under an hour. Sounds impossible? It isn't, but you won't learn the trade secrets unless you stop by his workshop this Friday! You can learn more about Corey on his Podcast Movement speaker page

See you guys there! 


About Podfly:

Podfly is a boutique podcast production company that turns amateur podcasters into professionals. We have a staff of highly skilled audio engineers and show note writers to craft the perfect podcast. If you're new to podcasting and don't know where to start, then Podfly has some great packages for newbies who want to get their podcast off the ground. Contact me personally at Ayn@Podfly.net or reach Podfly through the contact form for more information. 

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