The world of podcasting is vast. Audio offers people of all backgrounds the unique opportunity to learn, explore, play, and stay updated in ways that other media simply can’t. A podcaster may see a chance to make an extra buck, if that’s what they’re after, but also a chance to connect with and learn from other people they may not have met otherwise.
Melanie Scroggins, Hailey Thomas, and Gina Horkey started Podcast Production School in the fall of 2019, with the goal of preparing small businesses to launch, manage, and grow podcasts. Almost a year later, they have found a successful and effective niche in the podcasting space.
No path to podcasting is exactly the same.
While Melanie, Hailey, and Gina were introduced to podcasting in different ways, it eventually brought the three of them together. Though they’re in three different states and come from varying backgrounds in the online space, no path to podcasting is exactly the same.
Here’s a little more about their individual journeys and how podcasting has provided each of them with new income streams.
Melanie (Voice Actor & Audio Producer based in Texas):
For a couple of years, I was merely a podcast “spectator” listening to all kinds of shows ranging from science and money advice to ghost stories and comedy. But I’ll never forget the first podcast I ever listened to that I couldn’t get out of my head — Radiolab from WNYC.
In the summer of 2016, I was sitting on the floor of my now-husband’s apartment and all of a sudden this episode, almost like a musical melody, played out in front of my ears.
With a curious approach inspired by Radiolab, I included music and foley to provide a visceral experience for my audience.
From the moment I heard Jad Abumrad’s voice, and all of the amazing post-production elements he’d included in the show, I was hooked. Something about the way Jad brings life to that particular show had piqued my interest.
After that first introduction to podcasting, ideas of audio projects I could create for myself abounded! And when we found ourselves on the coast of Oregon in a tiny RV in the summer of 2017, I started producing my first podcast. With no more than a USB mic and a free DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), I set out to create this thing called a podcast.
Podcasting is what led me to my current career in voiceover and to the wonderful opportunity I have of teaching the podcast production process to others.
For about six months, I scheduled and recorded phone calls with friends and strangers from all over the world discussing a myriad of topics. With a curious approach inspired by Radiolab, I included music and foley to provide a visceral experience for my audience. Not long after venturing into the world of podcasting, I had friends — and then friends of friends — reach out to ask if I could create podcasts for their businesses.
Wait… Someone wanted to pay me to make them a podcast? I was surprised to learn that, yes, people everywhere were looking for podcast production help. So at the beginning of 2018, that’s how my podcast hobby turned into a podcast side hustle and, eventually, a full-time gig.
Wait… Someone wanted to pay me to make them a podcast?
By the fall of 2018, I’d officially left my last office job to pursue podcast production full time. After about 3-4 months, I was able to totally make up for my office job income.
Podcasting is what led me to my current career in voiceover and to the wonderful opportunity I have of teaching the podcast production process to others. It’s also given me the space, creative freedom, and confidence to continue on my own podcasting journey and share new insights and ideas for others in the voiceover industry.
As odd as it may seem to say, I’m so grateful to podcasting. It’s provided me with the chance to spread my creative wings and meet people I would never have met otherwise.
Hailey (Mindset Coach for Entrepreneurs based in Illinois):
Before I made the leap into entrepreneurship, podcasting was the medium that let me be a fly on the wall of many inspiring stories and powerful conversations about working for yourself. I spent my first two years in this world just listening in!
I credit its accessibility (both to the people recording and the folks listening) as the main reason I could create a game plan and take the leap into the world of online business in 2017 in the first place.
The whole process is a really fun experiment that has allowed me to be creative with writing like never before.
Since then, I’ve used the medium in several different ways. I started my own podcast in 2019. I would interview clients and was able to create some of my own inspiring conversations to share with others. My show has since morphed and is a way for me to solve client problems (which in turn, helps other people who may need my help find the show!)
I’ve also come to love the artistry of it. I enjoy putting together a meaningful show. I love thinking about what would make for great content. I think hard about how my guests can use assets we create together to better grow their own businesses. The whole process is a really fun experiment that has allowed me to be creative with writing like never before.
Podcasting was the medium that let me be a fly on the wall of many inspiring stories and powerful conversations about working for yourself.
Lastly, podcasting has afforded me SO many business opportunities. I mainly use it as an authority-building tool. Since 2019, my podcast has netted me over $10,000 in client and speaking opportunities. Because of my show, I get asked to speak at conferences and leading universities. I get invited onto other podcasts as a guest and have helped clients start their own shows as a podcast project manager. It’s forged the way for many life-giving conversations, and I’ll forever be grateful to the community that’s been built around this medium.
Gina (Founder of Horkey Handbook based in Minnesota):
Podcasting has been a powerful way for me to connect with new audiences. While it’s taken me until this year to launch my own show (and why launch one when you can launch two?), I've guested on other people’s shows since 2015.
Recording a 30-60 minute episode as a guest takes little more time than scheduling it, a few minutes of prep and showing up!
As a guest, I usually talk about the opportunity associated with starting an online service-based business, as well as successfully hiring, onboarding, and working with a virtual assistant to scale a business. My expertise offers value to listeners, and the conversation is an opportunity to share my company’s own products and services.
It’s a short-term activity with long-term benefits: Recording a 30-60 minute episode as a guest takes little more time than scheduling it, a few minutes of prep and showing up!
Now that I have my own interview-based show, I can leverage it to trade guest appearances with my entrepreneurial peers. This is a powerful strategy that leads to bookings on higher-profile podcasts, especially as my downloads and audience build.
Now that I have my own interview-based show, I can leverage it to trade guest appearances with my entrepreneurial peers.
Another key benefit of the show has been the opportunity to interview some of my company’s top students. The fact that some of our earliest students are making over 6 figures as online service providers is such powerful proof that our online courses work. Hello, case studies!
Discussing a topic from multiple perspectives enriches the listener experience. When students and other guests offer their stories and tips, it keeps the conversation fresh and engaging.
While the podcasting medium is huge, and pretty much endless, so are the opportunities to stretch your creative muscles and even earn some extra money while you’re at it. Whether you want to be a podcaster or you’re more interested in production, you’ll find what you’re looking for.
Gina Horkey is a married, millennial mama to two precocious kiddos from Minnesota. In addition to Podcast Production School, she’s also the founder of several websites: HorkeyHandBook.com, PinterestVA.com, KidsVsBikini.com, and GinaHorkey.com. Gina has specialized in helping everyday folks learn hard digital marketing skills to launch their own service-based businesses online, working from the comfort of their own home (or anywhere!) since 2014. Gina is also the host of the Horkey HQ Podcast. Her background includes making a living as a professional writer, an online business marketing consultant, and a decade of experience in the financial services industry.
Hailey Thomas is a mindset coach for online entrepreneurs and is based in Illinois. Since starting her business, BrainSpace Optimized in 2017, Hailey has worked with dozens of business owners to help them create structure and grow their businesses through coaching and project planning support. Hailey is the host of the business podcast, One Year from Now with Hailey Thomas, and helps the students and alumni of Podcast Production School grow their business by developing their entrepreneur’s mind (decision making and problem-solving skills). At home, Hailey is a wife and mom and spends the majority of her free time reading fiction, watching terrible 80s movies, and learning to code.