Turning a Podcast Into a Media Business with Liz Covart
Liz Covart is the Creator and host of Ben Franklin’s World a podcast about early American history and winner of the Best History Podcast Award in 2017. As the digital projects editor at the Omohundro Institute of early American history and culture, Liz practices a blend of scholarly history, public history, and digital humanities.
The OI’s primary focus is supporting scholars and scholarships related to early America. Liz experiments with social and new media to recreate scholarly history to large public audiences. Liz’s work makes scholarly history readily available to the public in hopes of making the public more interested in history. Liz earned her PhD in History from the University of California Davis.
Liz and I have been working together for quite awhile now, and it’s a joy to watch her podcast grow and reach continued levels of success. Liz’s story is a perfect example of how even careful planning can’t prepare you for the twists and turns of opportunity along your journey.
[03:11] Liz and Darrell met a long time ago. They were even in a mastermind together about five years ago.
[04:29] Darrell loves working with Liz and has learned so much from her podcast.
[05:05] Liz was meticulous about her podcast launch. She was listening to podcasts about writing and social media. She fell in love with podcasting, but couldn’t find a good history podcast to listen to.
[06:01] She decided to create an in-depth history podcast and then proceeded to research podcasting for 18 months. She wanted to know what made the media tick, and that’s still something she studies today. She spoke about the history of radio at last year’s podcast movement.
[09:32] Growing up, Liz’s parents gave her an allowance in books, so every week she could go to the library or bookstore an pick out a book.
[10:01] In 7th grade, she decided that she wanted to learn about history. She took a chronological approach and started in the Colonial period.
[10:52] She lives in Boston and grew up in the area.
[12:11] Each historian has a different take. They go to the archives and look at documents, objects, and oral histories to get information about the past. Then they use their evidence to create a picture of the past and what happened and why it happened.
[13:14] There are always different discoveries, and history is a reflection of our present as well as a reflection of our past.
[15:27] Her original vision was a public outface for her work where she could connect people with books and scholarly work. She had a strong history background and loved historical research.
[17:21] After three months, her podcast was averaging 25,000 to 30,000 downloads a month. Eventually, well known podcasters started pointing out that she had a media business, and then she started working on that side of the business.
[20:03] Liz’s musical training helps her everyday with her podcast from pacing to flow. It also gave her discipline in college with time planning.
[23:26] Consistency is the key to podcasting. Her show requires prep, and they give guests the questions in advance, so they can come up with great answers.
[24:45] Liz went from podcasting as a hobby to professional podcasting. She hired Pro Podcast Solutions and upgraded her equipment. Her podcast also created a job for her at Omohundro Institute, she now works with a small team.
[26:14] Holly White her producer helps with the reading. They use Trello to coordinate communication. Liz also uses Fantastical calendar for her Mac.
[28:29] Liz believes in consistency in publishing and always works ahead. One time she accidentally published late, and listeners were messaging her to see if she was alright.
[29:04] Liz sends a physical microphone to her guests, and her audio quality has really jumped. She sends Sennheiser headset microphones that are simple and easy to use. The she uses SquadCast as a simple high quality audio way to connect with her guests.
[32:34] Sending the mic to keep is cheaper with overseas interviews. They bought 12 Sennheiser PC8s and pop filters. Postage round trip is about $10, and only one person so far hasn’t sent the mic back.
[35:06] Liz loves interacting with listeners. She has meetups to connect with her audience.
[36:38] She had a meetup in Denver with over 20 people. Some had driven two or three hours. It was a great way to get feedback.
[41:05] Liz’s parents taught her the value of people and being there for them.
[41:48] She is currently reading Merchants of Truth.
[42:53] Liz would like to write a history on the Articles of Confederation and why it was ratified. It would be a multimedia project.
[46:54] Darrel takeaways: Liz’s podcast became so successful that it was a media business. Her first focus was the content and the audience. This is what turned it into such a success. Her background in music helped with rhythm and flow. Listeners count on consistency. She sent mics to her guests. Meetups helped clarify her avatar.
Links and Resources:
Pro Podcast Solutions
Ben Franklin’s World
Ben Franklin’s World on YouTube
Ben Franklin’s World on Facebook
Ben Franklin’s World App
Liz Covart on Twitter
Zone of Genius Mastermind
Mindset Strategies That Go Beyond Podcasting With Cliff Ravenscraft
Natalie Eckdahl BizChix
Ryan Gray Medical School Headquarters
Sennheiser PC8 Headset Microphones
Merchants of Truth
The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads
The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union — 1777
George Rogers Clark