Challenge Your Listeners to Create a Bingeable Podcast with Amy Schmidt of the Fearlessly Facing Fifty Podcast
As part of my series of interviews about “5 things you need to know to create a very bingeable podcast”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Schmidt, podcaster, author, public speaker, blogger and founder of the brand, Fearlessly Facing Fifty™
Amy launched her business and brand six months before turning 50. Her mission is to encourage women to push fear aside and find that hidden treasure of confidence, and not let this time of life allow them to lose their identity. Amy challenges you to reflect on your accomplishments and take those experiences to propel you forward. Amy’s weekly podcasts have an audience that continues to grow at record speeds reaching thousands every week. Her interviews arm you with insight and value, leave an imprint on your heart, and inspire you to take action. Amy uses her personal storytelling and authentic self to empower women to take charge of their life in the middle, at a time when women can begin to feel invisible. Amy’s podcasts inspire women to step outside their comfort zones, and she is as approachable and genuine in person.
. . .
Can you tell us a bit of your “personal backstory? What is your background and what eventually brought you to this particular career path?
At 22 I was ready to set the world on fire as the next morning anchor, taking the broadcast world by storm, and then this happened. I married my college sweetheart and spent the next twenty-six years raising three kids, moving 11 times, including a move to Germany for 6 years and knew there was more for me to do. There was more of me to give. So six months before I turned 50 I launched my podcast, Fearlessly Facing Fifty and published my first book. I am an action-driven person, and I noticed that all of the conversations I was having with friends all revolved around the same topics. The multifaceted topics we take on at midlife. So my mission with the launch of my podcast and my book is to challenge the narrative around midlife from crisis to opportunity.
Can you share a story about the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you started podcasting?
The most interesting thing for me is the fact that I have built a community, made connections and had conversations with incredible people. Every time I finish recording an episode, I just sit back and have an overwhelming sense of gratitude for my guests sharing their voice, their insight, and being brave. I learn something from every episode I record. I have had ‘pinch me’ moments when I finished my interview with the incredible, Joan Lunden, and just wishing my Mom was alive to see me now. Growing up Joan Lunden was a part of the morning routine at our house, and to have the opportunity to talk with Joan, and hear her journey through her own words, but a moment I won’t forget.
Can you share a story about the biggest or funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaways you learned from that?
Oh YES! I had every ‘i’ dotted and ’t’ crossed and was ready to roll with my first episode. It was a solo episode, and I had every detail covered. Or did I? I remember taking a deep breath and starting. I had done the prep work, had my script ready to go, I knew I had uninterrupted time, everything was aligned to launch with confidence. I got done with my solo record, was ready to jump up and down and high five myself with pride until I went to look for the audio file and couldn’t find it. I never hit record.
Right at that moment, those feelings of self-doubt were setting in. What was I thinking? I’m 50. How can I possibly do this when I can’t even remember to push record. But it takes confidence to fail, right? And it was a huge learning experience for me. I’ll call it the ultimate practice run. To this day, I haven’t forgotten to record an episode again….and I’m so happy that I realized that it doesn’t have to be perfect, not everything has to be aligned..you just have to recalibrate (or in my case, re-record and continue on).
How long have you been podcasting and how many shows have you aired?
I launched the Fearlessly Facing Fifty Podcast in October 2019 and am 60 episodes in and episodes in the queue through October.
What are the main takeaways, lessons or messages that you want your listeners to walk away with after listening to your show?
After every episode, my hope is that the message has resonated and added value and most importantly inspired them to take action in one way or another. Challenging themselves to create their #cannonball moments. At this time, life is filled with uncertainty and anxiousness, and people want to spend their time wisely. I look at it as a portfolio. People need to be depositing into their accounts at the moment, with insight and knowledge they can apply to their lives. I don’t want the airtime I share with my listeners to withdraw from their account. Having a podcast platform can be so powerful if the content is valuable and applicable to their life — whether it’s through humor, education or sharing inspiring stories.
Recently I had a listener reach out and tell me that after listening to an episode, they were inspired to go back and finish their degree. They were taking a moment to make themselves the guest of honor, which is something I talked about in the episode. Those are the moments that make me so grateful for what I do.
In your opinion what makes your podcast binge-listenable? What do you think makes your podcast unique from the others in your category? What do you think is special about you as a host, your guests, or your content?
I feel as though I create exclusive content. In the podcast world, the listeners want content that will add value to their busy lives, and they will stay for the host. As a podcaster, you must build trust with your community. I hold very true to that relationship and work hard to create content that will challenge the listener, share knowledge and insight that may allow them to tackle a situation or answer a question differently and most importantly, forge ahead with more confidence. I feel as though I set myself apart because I take time researching the guests and their messages, and allow the guests a safe place to share their voice. At midlife, there are many challenges we face, and to build trust with the followers is most important to me. I focus on my mission and stay aligned by opening the dialogue on the topics where connections are key. I am focused on changing the narrative around midlife from crisis to opportunity and providing them tools to take on this phase with confidence.
My format is three-tiered in that each week in my interview-style podcast, I talk with incredible women who share their stories, in their own voice. I also interview experts on top of mind topics, such as changing relationships, health and wellness at midlife, finances, career, and so many more, as this phase of life is so multifaceted. I also interview celebrities that share their journeys, and their challenges.
Doing something on a consistent basis is not easy. Podcasting every work-day, or even every week can be monotonous. What would you recommend to others about how to maintain discipline and consistency? What would you recommend to others about how to avoid burnout?
I lead workshops about gaining confidence behind the mic, and one of the biggest takeaways is setting you up for success.
Create a production schedule that aligns with your mission — if you are podcasting as a hobby or as a business. Make sure you are honest with yourself and create a commitment pact with yourself before you launch. I also say you can start with once a month and build from there — but don’t overpromise and underdeliver. You also have to keep your budget in mind. Are you willing to do the work yourself, or are you planning to look for help in different areas that may include monthly costs?
What resources do you get your inspiration for materials from?
I am a research junkie. I read and read more. I search for content that is aligned is my mission and explode from there. There are times I spend a day or two just researching topics that are current among my demographic. One of the most important parts of inspiration for me is getting feedback from my listeners. What are they looking for? What topics are of interest to them? Great market research right there.
Is there someone in the podcasting world who you think is a great model for how to run a really fantastic podcast?
I recently attended a podcast conference with thousands of podcasters (pre-COVID) and I ended up meeting an incredible young guy that inspired me. His podcast is business-related and heck, I could be his mom. But the power of this connection added value to both of us. He was a recent guest on my podcast, and he started the conversation by saying, “I never dreamed I would be on a podcast called Fearlessly Facing Fifty.” He came on and shared his story of how it’s important to nurture your relationship with your mom — Bam! Perfect Mother’s Day Episode for my listeners and I have learned so much from him through this journey. We support each other, and he has been an incredible role model for me in building the business aspect of my podcast. Thank you Alex Sanfilippo, Host of the Creating A Brand Podcast.
I also am a huge Brené Brown fan and love her podcast, Unlocking Us — it always adds value and hits home with me. I look forward to her episodes and make time in my calendar to listen.
What are the ingredients that make that podcast so successful? If you could break that down into a blueprint, what would that blueprint look like?
Let’s just start with a lot of hard work. It takes time and effort to take an episode from the interview to production. I don’t think people realize the amount of effort and details involved. Creating good content and being consistent in your messaging is key.
Also being a good interviewer and having quality guests that share your mission and know what your objective is with every episode.
It is important to be a good listener. The conversation needs to be authentic and as a host, it is so important to stay on track and you never know where the conversation will go. Scripts are not a tool I use, other than letting the guests know my mission and objective with the interview. From there….we roll and at times the conversation goes a completely different direction, and that’s okay if you stay on task to the mission.
Can you share with our readers the five things you need to know to create an extremely successful podcast?
1) Determine your WHO — who are you creating this podcast for? For me, I am creating content that is adding value to midlife women, but I realize that women (and some men) of all ages are listening. Opening the dialogue about top-of-mind topics and sharing insight that listeners can apply to their lives, no matter what their circumstance or story.
2) Determine your WHAT — What will you be talking about? Start your market research and listen to other podcasts in your genre. I love asking my network and friends what they want to talk about. It’s a key step in your market research. There is so much power in using your resources and utilizing your network.
3) Determine who is your ideal listener — your avatar. Start thinking about where they hang out online and how you will connect with them and engage with them.
4) Choose your length of episode and frequency of episodes that work for your schedule.
5) Believe in your message — Don’t second guess yourself, or let self-doubt set in. Don’t wait for it to be perfect. Just START!
Check out the full interview in Tracy Hazzard’s Authority Magazine article about Amy Schmidt!
. . .
1) Book Great Guests. When I launched my podcast, I knew that the most important part of this journey for me was creating content that was relatable and on target with my mission, and bringing on guests that could share stories that would inspire the listeners.
2) Increase Listeners. Just keep going. Dory always said…just keep swimming and that’s the mantra for podcasting as well. Building your community, and building trust with your community takes time.
3) Produce in a Professional Way. I started my journey with very little tech background. And I challenged myself to learn. Lifetime learning is key. With the number of podcasts out there in the universe, you want yours to stand out. To be professional and the most important part besides good content is quality sound.
4) Encourage Engagement. Think about all of those times you try to find a radio station and it’s static’y’…you turn it off, right. It’s the same thing with podcasting. Good audio is a key ingredient to a successful podcast.
5) Monetize Your Show. I am very fortunate to have some incredible sponsors that align with my mission. You can also monetize by offering classes, workshops, I also have a book I’ve published — so that all goes into the monetization for me.
What makes your podcast binge-listenable? What do you think makes your podcast unique from the others in your category? What do you think is special about you as a host, your guests, or the content itself?
Check out the full interview in Tracy Hazzard’s Authority Magazine article about Amy Schmidt!