One of the common things that hold people back from podcasting is the technical part of it. Just thinking about the amount of time and effort put into setting it up, editing, and booking guests is enough to send them running away. But what a waste of wisdom that is! Tracy Hazzard brings over to this episode Amy Schmidt, the host of Fearlessly Facing Fifty, to, like the name of her show, inspire us to see past our podcast tech fear so we can impart the insights that could help those who need it. Amy shares her journey thus far into podcasting, how she started and what changed since, and how she is working to increase her listeners, book great guests, and monetize her show. Plus, she also helps break down some podcasting misconceptions, pushing past the things that keep people from trying out their hand in the space.
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How to See Past Your Podcast Tech Fear to Move Listeners from Crisis to Opportunity with Amy Schmidt, Host of Fearlessly Facing Fifty
I have a podcaster who has caught my attention. For those of you who don’t realize it and I’m going to be blatantly honest about it, I turned 50 late last 2020 in December and hearing the title Fearlessly Facing Fifty. I’m not facing it anymore, but the title of Amy Schmidt’s podcast Fearlessly Facing Fifty, really caught my eye. It came across my Authority Magazine article, and I looked at that and I thought she’d given some great tips here, but I got to find out more about this podcast. I have to listen to it because it seems so relevant to the moment of myself turning 50.
The story goes that I told my dad when I had my birthday when he called me up to wish me a happy birthday. I said, “If it’s the pandemic and I don’t have a birthday celebration to celebrate being 50, and I don’t blow out any candles on a cake, can I have another year to turn 50?” My dad goes, “I don’t see why not, I brought you into this world. We can do this.” I’ve been a little apprehensive about this year of 50, maybe because it comes amid all the stress of this year. Maybe it’s because everyone keeps saying you’re not 50, which I truly appreciate the good genetics that is going on here, but it is an interesting topic to have chosen for a podcast.
That’s why I was so excited to get a chance to talk to Amy. Let me tell you a little bit about her before we talk about what we’re going to talk about. Amy Schmidt is an Award-winning Podcaster. She’s a Bestselling Author, a Public Speaker, a TEDx Speaker, a Blogger and a Founder of the brand Fearlessly Facing 50. She launched her business brand six months before turning 50. Her mission is to encourage women over 40 to push fear aside and find that hidden treasure of confidence that may have been pushed aside for a while and not let this time of life allow them to lose their identity.
She is committed to challenging the narrative at midlife from crisis to opportunity. Her weekly podcast has an audience that continues to grow at record speeds, reaching thousands every week. Her interviews arm you with the insight and value leaving an imprint on your heart and inspire you to take action. She is the real deal. Amy has a trusted following and built a community around inspiring others. Her work has been published in Grown and Flown, Scary Mommy, Today’s Parents and many others. She’s a regular contributor on numerous syndicated talk shows and loves sharing her story to inspire others. She’s here to inspire you to be fearless about podcasting.
This is such a great topic and niche audience area, and so many of you go for that general show that says, “I want to reach women everywhere because they all have this need,” and I get that one a lot. When you dial it in a little bit deeper when you get to, “I want to get to women facing 50 and turning 50 and who is 50, and I want to get them to be fearless.” That’s what I’m looking at helping them do. That’s so clear–cut both in the title of your show, in the focus of how you are able to focus your interviews, and that’s what Amy has brought. Let’s give a read to the insights from Amy Schmidt, from Fearlessly Facing Fifty.
Amy, welcome to the show. We’re going to talk Fearlessly Facing Fifty and I’m not facing it anymore. I am it and I know you are too. How did you address that? Tell people, like, when you set a show up where its title is facing something, and then it happens, how do you address that on a show?
What I did on my 50th too, it’s the cover of my book. I jumped off a cliff in Negril.
I admire you for that one.
I think for me, that’s my whole branding thing. First of all, I have to say happy birthday and you look amazing 50, 1970. We’ve been on this earth for five decades.
That astounds me in some days. It went so fast.
The best is yet to come. I’m telling you, it’s an invigorating time of life. I remember sitting, and with my kids, all grown, I still have one at home, a high schooler, but it was like I had a piece of me that wanted to do, serve, give, and most importantly learn more, but I needed to be fearless about that. I needed to put the fear aside and stop in my tracks and reflect on what I had done in my past and use that to push me forward. I feel like that was a big part of launching the whole Fearlessly Facing Fifty. It’s true to me. It’s my story.So much of a host’s responsibility is building trust. Click To Tweet
You have mentioned this a few times on your show that, you were a little fearful of podcasting and of the technology. It tripped you up a few times. What was it about podcasting that had you apprehensive?
You start to feel a little outdated. You’ve got social media changing all the time. Shout out to Clubhouse.
I’ll have my first Clubhouse. I’ll tell you how it is.
I hosted a room. We do midlife matters. Podcasting was scary a little bit because I hadn’t listened to podcasts either. I hadn’t engaged with that technology, that part of it, but the audio is so it’s such a big way to learn and it’s such a way of connecting that I knew that’s what I wanted to do. As I said, I wanted to learn more. When I started this podcast, I’d put an ad on the Facebook page of a local community group that thousands of people are on and I get a response and it’s like, “Yes, I’m coming over. I’m going to such all up on this podcasting thing.” I had no idea and this guy came over and I said it before I could be his mom. He did call me Mrs. Schmidt. I was like, “We are so not doing that. Call me Amy.” He said, “This is what you need and I’ll do it all for you.” I said, “No, no. I don’t want you to do it for me. You can put it in my cart and sign me up as an Amazon affiliate,” because he does that in the meantime. That aside, I said, “I want to do this, like soup to nuts, I want to learn how to do it hands-on.”
There was some apprehension about it because it’s not a button. You know this from producing podcasts. It is a lot between getting guests, doing the research for the guests, producing, editing and putting them out there, writing the episode notes. It’s a big process and you don’t learn it overnight. I was nervous about the technology part but trips to the Genius Bar to figure out my Mac, YouTube videos, the power of Google and using my resources. We’re that old that we’ve got people out there that can help us and we can’t be afraid to ask for the help.
I always look at podcasting, I sometimes describe it to my clients as an onion. There are different layers. You start at the core and in a sense of instead of removing the onion layers, which you remove them as you get competent at them, but you’re essentially adding layers though to the quality of your show, to the different things you’re bringing to your audience, but you got to get started. That’s what you did. You dove in like you did on your 50th and said, “I’m going to do this.”
I shared it on the TED stage when I did my TEDx talk and I said, “I was so ready because I had researched everything. I was ready to go.” From the podcast world, you want to have at least three episodes ready to go under your belt, confident. I had the little picture of my kids and my husband’s sitting here in my office cheering me on. I go and I’m often running with this first episode of Fearlessly Facing Fifty and I get done. I’m like, “I rocked that. That going to be like Emmy winning. I think this is awesome.” I go back to find the audio file and it’s not there.
It happened to all of us.
You’re sitting there going, “What am I thinking?” How am I possibly going to do this? I’m 50 years old. I forgot to push the record. Half the time, I can’t see if I don’t have my glasses on my head. I forget where my phone is. How am I going to do this? You can and that’s the beauty of podcasting, of going back and listening to episode one and going, “Did I say that? Did it sound that horrible?” You learn.
You did something that a lot of people have been hearing and thinking about. You did a new episode one. After a while, you hit that and you said, “Here’s what the show’s about. Here’s where we’re going forward.” You have your new, I like to call it your episode zero. Even though they’re all numbered when you get in the system, but it’s like that base where in our case, binge listeners are going to come in, they’re going to find that episode, and they’re going to go for that one. Binge listeners are really smart. They know it’s not always going to be your number one. If you’ve got more than 50 episodes, they’ll check up through it and they’ll say, “That’s the one where they talk about shifting their show,” or they’re talking about what the new year is going to be like. They’ll listen to that one.
It was funny because I always ask the question at the end of, “If you’re sitting on the couch and you look over and there’s 30 years old,” I asked this to Joan Lunden, “What advice would you give yourself?” That’s something I put all together at the end of the year. There was a lot of editing but all of those is a culmination of all of that advice that women give each other. It was amazing and that’s the type of stuff. People will look for that particular episode and say, “I want to listen to that.”
“I want to find out what’s changed.” Let’s talk about that. When you started your show, you had this idea of what it was going to be like, and over time, you molded it. What shifted over time for you?In order to book great guests, you need to pitch enough people. Click To Tweet
My confidence for sure. My confidence for the big ask to say, “What do I have to lose? I’m going to shoot for the Joan Lunden’s.” I have friends that are wonderful guests and they have so much value. They add value to the show but I’m going to set my standards out there and say, “Why not? Why don’t they want to be on my show and why not ask?” That took some time but I created the proper letter and that type of thing to reach out to. You go through the layers, like the onion, there are layers of getting to these people, these high profile people. Once you do, and I think what I’ve learned on that journey is once they trust you, and that’s so much a host responsibility is building that trust then the guests come. Now, I open up my email and it’s like, “Such and such is doing this wants to be on your show.” It’s amazing and that’s been a process.
Tapping that in your community, you’ve done that well here. Amy and I are Connecticut girls. You got an interview with the Connecticut ground zero patient, which was fascinating to get to hear. Tapping into something that’s of local interest, as well as international interests because we all know our podcasts to be listening all over the world, but not forgetting that localness can help you.
That was an amazing episode. As a podcaster too, one thing I’ve learned is that I grow from every episode. I learn something. My heart is so full when I’m done hearing these stories. It gives me goosebumps talking about it. That’s really why I keep doing what I’m doing. It’s those community stories blended with national draw stories and that type of thing. The community ones are wonderful. Podcasting is storytelling, especially women. I have men on my show as well, but when women are brave enough to share their story, their voice and after the show from the episode notes or from the links that are posted there, people get follow up and they’re like, “This resonated with so-and-so. They had the same situation.” That’s the power of your voice and podcasting.
For everyone out there, I already have an article about Amy. Normally, we do these interviews and then an article comes out. There’s already an article about Amy and her advice to you. We’re going to skip our five things for this week, but I’m going to recap them quickly. Amy suggested that in order to book great guests, you pitch enough people. I think that’s great advice. In order to increase listeners, you keep swimming. That is so true because I hear that from podcasters who’ve done 500 episodes. Produce like a pro. You got to learn some new tech and I appreciate that. We talked about that already. To encourage engagement, focus on good audio. We’re going to touch on that. Monetizing your show, offer classes, workshops and books. That’s where we’re going to dive in right after I asked you a quick question about that. Why do you think audio is so key to good engagement?
It’s so key. If you listen to a few of my early episodes, I had to learn that because they’re going to turn it off. It’s like a radio station. If it’s static, they’re going to turn it off. They’re not going to listen. Audio is key. Everything about audio and getting sharp, crisp audio is the way to go, otherwise, they are not going to listen.
It gives you that foundation. Let’s talk about the business building of what’s gone on. Did you think that you would end up with, not a podcast but a business model of all these things that followed?
A brand, yeah. It’s like a pinch-me moment. I was hoping because that was part of my business plan. I launched this thing. The podcast will be growing my community and from there and my platform and such. I since have written a book and I do workshops and all of that type of thing. It’s fascinating and it is ever-changing. To put together a sponsor sheet to say, “I’m adding value, I’m getting these reviews back. I’m getting this feedback. I have credibility in this area. Think about sponsoring me.” That was another thing about going for those big guests. You go for the sponsors. Why not ask? If you don’t ask, they’re not going to know. What do you have to lose? All they can say is no or they can say, “I’ll think about it.” That’s okay. You circle back later.
This is a common podcasting misconception. They think that you start a show and the sponsors are going to like throw money at you. It doesn’t work like that. It’s unfortunate because it works like that less for women than men, but I find that the women who are out there and the business builders, men and women, going out there and asking for sponsorship are really surprised at how easy that is. If your value, they want to be a part of that. They want to experiment, at least they’ll get that. When they do start to see, “You do have listeners. You got engagement. You get a return.” They come back again because they see that value. You’re demonstrating that. Every show we talk about the binge factor, what is your binge factor? What do you think it is? Because right now is the right point for me to tell you. You know what I think it is.
Why? What do you think it is?
It’s your deep passion in this niche. When you’re deep in a subject or a stage of life, which in this case you are, of pain, longing opportunity, aspiration or whatever that might be, there are people out there searching. You’re right in the right place at the right moment. The thing about it is audio is the right place for you because this is so personal. I’m not likely to watch as many videos about being 50 as I am putting my earbuds in and listening privately to it, because I don’t necessarily want the people around me to know that I might be a little anxious about this 50 thing. When it’s something so deeply personal, podcasting does well and that’s what you’ve touched on. That’s led to them asking for more and that’s why your business is building.
That’s right. They stay for the host and they build that trust. You build that community and people do. When you binge listen to Fearlessly Facing Fifty, I know women that have called me and said, “I’m putting on my headphones and I’m listening,” and that’s what I want. At the end of it, I want them to be inspired to action. As you said, they’re not going to want to watch. I have a live show as well, which I started, which is great. I do that fairly often, but the podcast part of it is inspiring somebody to take action in their life. That’s what’s so important. You hear it and you hear these stories of other people sharing their vulnerabilities, these experts sharing their advice and all of a sudden, a woman says, “That did happen to me.” “I’m going through that. My parents are getting older.” “Those are some great questions. I need to open up the dialogue about this.” Those are the things that make people come back and listen to this particular niche, which is women 40, 50 and beyond, and women at 60 are listening to podcasts.
This is the misconception as well is that it’s young people listening to podcasts. It so not the case. I found that out several years ago with our first show that it wasn’t. We thought it would be all geeky, teenagers in their garages doing 3D printing, and in the end for us, it was like retirees and teachers in the Midwest. Learning that about the audience is interesting as well.
It is and they want to learn. People want to learn and challenge themselves in different ways and maybe hearing that they will be like, “Oh.” It’s going to spark their interest in something. Maybe they’ll end up going to that yoga class that they keep pulling in the parking lot and turning away because they’re too scared to go in. Maybe something in that messaging that they heard from myself or a guest or whatever is encouraging them to do that. Once again, my heart is full and I feel grateful that people listen.
As you can all read, Amy has this unique ability to face a crisis. Look it at as an opportunity and do this in a way that models what we all want, which is why she’s such a great host for the show.
I’m enjoying the way that you make everything so personal too. There are a lot of hosts out there who are spewing their stuff all the time. You hear it a lot. You work yours in a relatable way. You know what’s the right time to talk about that you lost a parent or you know that it’s the right time to talk about that your kids are at home because of COVID-19. It’s a lot. When you get real with those moments, it’s the way you build tremendous rapport with your audience.
It’s being authentic and I think that’s one of the best compliments I’ve gotten from the podcast. I love the reviews and they’re fantastic, but when somebody leaves a review or texts me or emails me and says, “You are authentic. I can relate to you.” That’s what I want. I’m not swinging from poles like J-Lo is at 50. I’m not, maybe I’ll try, who knows. If there’s a guest on and wants to teach me, but I think that being authentic, being real and building that trust with your community, people come and they stay for the host. I think that’s true in podcasting.
They come in for the learning opportunity and then they stay because they cause you to deliver that and more.
You talked a little bit about having this Facebook Live, and this is a trendy thing. I hate to call it trendy because it’s been going on a lot longer than most people realize, but doing live video, doing more video has been going on a lot. We peaked in 2020 with about close to 50% of our clients doing video. It’s down a bit and we’re closer to 40% of our clients who are doing video. You’re doing something interesting. You’re not having the same guests on your Facebook live that you’re having on your podcast. That has to be a purposeful choice, why?
It is because when I build my content calendar and when I look at what I’m doing, these lives are almost like large events where I want women to come and then they’ll be introduced to the podcast. Some of them had never listened to the podcast. I had one about relaunching, which was perfect for women over 50. I had on three phenomenal guests that are credible, insightful, wise and it was amazing the amount of engagement. I think the reason I do it too, is because of the engagement factor.
I have people on with me live, I have a woman that produces it for me now, and she can take the questions as people are putting them in real-time. I think that’s adding a lot of value. It’s creating more work for me because I’m not dropping that into a podcast episode, but I’m fulfilling what my community wants. When I survey them, when I run polls and all those things that you do before you start a show, you market research, when you’re running a show, you want to make sure you’re continuing to add value where your listeners want value. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.
It is creating a little bit more work for me, for sure but the value for the community, I think the upside is there. They’re enjoying it. I’ve got a woman coming on from Chair Whimsy who’s going to be designing a chair. She’s got an amazing following. She started her business later in life, and it’s challenging your creative side. Many women had reached out and said, “What about the creative side? I want to start a pottery class. I want to do this.” That’s my reason for incorporating some live in.
I have to check out a woman who’s designing chairs because I am a woman who designed chairs for twenty years, which is very rare. People would say, “I’ve never heard of anyone who designs chairs.” I had now have to meet her because you said that. Do you tease the Facebook Live? Have you done that kind of crossover event? I don’t know how you call them. Have you done any of that to interest your podcast listeners?
Yes. I am using the power of social media. In between that, I’m using my Facebook Live ability to go in and tease those things. I do a lot of social media graphics around it. Analytics–wise, I’m looking at a lot of my podcast listeners are tuning in live now. They enjoy that.
When we can start to cross platforms, then we realized we’re not building a podcast, we’re building a business overall. What are your goals? Where are you going to take the podcast next?
I look at the next ten years of my life and I’m going to be 61. When I look back at where my mom was at 50, and I remember it because I was about 13 and putting pearls on because we were having a party for her. She seemed older than I do now. My mom was always very youthful. I think for me, I’m going to continue to challenge myself and grow this. I’m having new opportunities come up all the time. I’m moderating a group on Clubhouse, which is exciting. Midlife really matters. This time of life matters. I see myself, I’m writing a workbook as we speak that goes along with my book. That’ll be launching this spring 2021. I’m going to continue to do the live along with the podcast and see what happens. I’m not giving in and not giving up and going to continue moving forward, and who knows? Opportunities come. I get to do segments on new shows pretty often. My confidence has gotten better since behind the mic and everything. I never really had a fear about it, but I can tell how I articulate and how I talk is all. I’m learning. It’s a work in progress.Nothing happens by luck, It has to be intentional, and you just have to start. Click To Tweet
You’re continually learning at any age. What advice do you have for podcasters out there on how to be a little more fearless?
Two words, start. How many people do you do you talk to and especially in your business, you talk to them and they have this great idea? They want to do it, but then something stops them in their tracks, whether it’s perfectionism saying, “It’s not going to be right. I can’t launch it,” or procrastination, “I’ll do it next year.” It’s like my whole Cannonball book, “I’ll jump off next year when I’m 10 pounds lighter,” that’s not going to happen. It’s not going to happen by luck. It has to be intentional and you have to start. If you forget to record your first one, like I did, you can continue to go. All of that builds your confidence and it’s part of it. My advice to anybody and I’m speaking at Podfest at the Global Summit is, start. You can always recalibrate.
Thank you for being fearless. Thank you for being a voice for women over a certain age and out there in the podcasting sphere. We appreciate you and everyone, you need to tune into Fearlessly Facing Fifty with Amy Schmidt.
Wasn’t that amazing? Amy has got so much insight to share and so much energy. She’s so excited about her show still to this day and I love that. When you get past 80 episodes, like she is, to still have the same energy as when you started it to begin with. Without the little bit of hesitation, but to get past that tech challenge, to get past the recording nerves, to get past your first interviews, and then hit the ground running and keep going all the way fearlessly like Amy’s doing. That’s amazing. It wouldn’t be an episode of the show if I didn’t have a couple of things that I wanted to point out about the shows that are on here that we’re focusing on.
I especially want to point out one because you probably heard me say this again and again over time, whether you’ve been listening to our show, Feed Your Brand with all of our tips and tactics for launching a podcast or you’ve been reading this blog. This one comes up quite frequently and typically, I recommend an introduction for your show that has a voice of authority. Amy’s is not that way. She’s the great exception to the rule. I wanted to point it out to you, so you go and take a listen to her show.
It’s a more personalized invitation style. It’s a little bit longer than most shows typically have it nowadays because people like it to be 30 seconds, especially if you’re a binge listener. It’s that warm invitation that she gives as the introduction to her show, the bumper if you want to call it that where she’s inviting you in and she’s telling you why she’s here for you. That is of great service to this style of show. If you’ve got this style of show where you’re helping from crisis to opportunity, from that place, this might be the right style for you.
My recommendation is when you do something like this, try it. Start to get some feedback on it and see if it resonates with people. Shorten it as you go on, as your show gets longer and longer so that you’re not repeating yourself all the time and that it’s not so repetitive for the binge listeners over time. However, the style of what Amy’s got is perfect for this style of show, for a style that needs an invitation and needs to be very personal because the subject matter is so personal.
I might recommend this style for shows that are about recovery, whether it’s alcohol, drug recovery, sex addiction recovery. We have shows like that on our platform already. This is a great style for those types of shows as well. For anyone who needs to help move you through a crisis, this might be a great way because it builds a great rapport. If you’re trying to build though, and maybe you’re a doctor who’s got a talk show and aspirations for one, you need a voice of authority. This is not the case with Amy.
Her business is intimate. It’s personal. The way everything runs is it’s around creating that intimacy level with her audience. Creating that personableness and that authenticity that she talked about. This is why this works well for her. I love talking with Amy because we are Connecticut girls as I mentioned, but it has a sense of understanding of how you can grow your show to a place where you feel great about where it’s going, how it is right now without having these unruly and overwhelming expectations of what it should be.
She’s letting it happen. She’s letting it evolve. She’s pushing it, nudging it and making it hers, but she’s letting it happen and that’s such a great way to look at having a show. It’s such a great way to look at how to use the show to build that platform to grow a business. I applaud Amy Schmidt, Fearlessly Facing Fifty. Give a shout out to Amy on social media as well. Go check out her Facebook group and her Facebook lives. Thanks, everyone for reading. I’m Tracy Hazzard embracing being 50, thanks to Amy. I appreciate her coming on this show.
- Fearlessly Facing Fifty
- Authority Magazine – Challenge Your Listeners to Create a Bingeable Podcast with Amy Schmidt of the Fearlessly Facing Fifty Podcast
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