Today we have a very special guest on the blog! I am so honored to share this interview with Michelle Gately, who is the founder and leader of The Small Business Podcast Academy. Michelle talks about the behind the scenes of her business, how it is so beneficial for people from all walks of life, and how podcasting is truly an amazing medium. I learned a lot from interviewing Michelle, and I hope you enjoy what she has to say!
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m an Aussie journalist living in the UK and I work with small businesses to help them communicate online with confidence. I’m also a mega bookworm, so I’ve always got a book in hand too!
How have your creative and business journeys intersected?
When I was in university I started reviewing books online. This really opened up a whole new world for me, introducing me to so many new people and writing styles.
At the end of university, I started working full-time as a journalist at a small newspaper but kept blogging on the side. I loved the freedom of chatting to people all over the world about books, especially as my small town didn’t have a big Arts scene. When we moved overseas in 2019, I decided to turn this blogging into something a little more and started building my business combining my professional writing knowledge with creative blogging and podcasting experience.
How did the Small Business Podcast come to be? Can you tell us more about it?
My friend Caitlin and I started a book interview podcast (Better Words) in 2017 and just fell in love with the format. We’re both huge podcast fans, so it was fun to explore the medium ourselves and interview Aussie authors and creatives.
I then wrote a true-crime investigative podcast (Predator) in 2019. Again, I loved the medium and the creativity podcasting allowed. It was a chance for me to tell a story in a new way and expand on it in a way writing doesn’t always allow. That was later a finalist in an Australian journalism award, so I realised I did have a talent for planning and producing audio stories.
I can’t remember exactly when I realised that I could help other business owners do the same! But I just felt that it was the best way to combine something I’m truly passionate about with knowledge and experience. I tailor the course to businesses, which does bring in what I’ve learned about marketing and blogging over the years too. So it’s really a combination of my years online.
In the Academy, I help business owners go from their podcast concept through to the actual podcast on iTunes/Spotify. So, over 12 weeks we look at things like developing the idea, choosing a name and niche, how to interview or script shows, how to record and edit and create a plan for launching.
What do you think makes podcasts so appealing?
I think it’s the intimacy of the medium. I don’t know about you, but I almost always have some sort of podcast going as I go about my day. I listen in the shower, while I’m cooking, sometimes while I’m working. It’s comforting when you’re working from home!
But I think it’s also the fact that there really is something out there for everyone. There are podcasts for your favourite niche television shows, or for learning new skills or dissecting the news. It’s so personal and it feels like you’re having a direct conversation with the hosts.
Why do you encourage people to dive into podcasting?
For business owners, podcasts can be such a powerful way to speak to your potential clients and to build a community. Like I said before it’s so personal that you can really build a relationship. Plus, you own your content (unlike social media).
A podcast is a lot of work for a hobby, but it can be a really fun experience that helps you develop so many new skills. Caitlin and I learned how to edit audio, improved our interviewing skills, and I think both just gained a lot more confidence. It’s something you can be proud of and it’s a fun medium to experiment with!
What are some challenges that come with starting or running a podcast?
One of the biggest challenges would be underestimating the work and time involved in creating a podcast. That’s something Caitlin and I definitely did, which is why we dropped back the number of episodes we were doing and have now switched to producing the podcast seasonally.
Another stumbling block can be not starting out with a clear intention: that makes it feel a bit messier and can make it harder to stay consistent with content.
What would you say to someone just starting off in a creative business?
Find a group of like-minded people you can connect with! Finding The Co-Working Club in Nottingham was a lifesaver for me. I’d moved to a new country and gone from a very busy newsroom to working for myself, which was a real shock to the system! Having a group of women I could connect with who were facing similar challenges made me feel less alone. And there will be so many challenges in any creative business that you really need a support network of people who truly ‘get it’. Because family and other friends are great, but they might not be able to really help when you’re worried about the Instagram algorithm or want to celebrate a new client!
You have an amazing following on social media. How would you encourage others to grow their businesses or accounts?
Social media following is so subjective and I think it’s so easy to get caught up on a number. I would encourage others to think about what they really want from their online presence. For me, that’s connection. I want to speak to people in my DMs and connect with other bookworms or creative business owners.
Then just get out there are start engaging! Find other people to follow and don’t just comment random things on their posts, but really engage with them, their story, and their profile. I really do think you get what you give in life, and that is true for your online business too.
What is your favorite part of running the Small Business Podcast Academy?
I love seeing the progress my students are making. We have live coaching calls every week and I just love seeing them talk about their projects and the steps they’re taking. It makes me so proud and so excited for them!
If you could give one piece of advice to your followers, what would it be?
Define your own version of success. You have the power to shape a life you truly enjoy and that really starts with working out what success means to you, not what you’ve been told it should mean.
Follow Michelle on Instagram: @unfinishedbookshelf