(By Robin Kinnie) I remember getting my first podcast client. Up until then, Motor City Woman Studios had exclusively been a digital radio station featuring an all-women-led lineup of show hosts. It was an intentional desire to increase the number of women in broadcasting. After researching the podcast industry, I realized that the numbers were similar – women were grossly underrepresented as lead show hosts.
Over the years, podcasting has grown to be another form of media for anyone to share their expertise and/or opinion. I call it the “great equalizer.” However, the number of podcasts hosted by women still don’t correlate with the number of women listening to podcasts. But, there’s hope. Meet Kimberly Sumpter who is just as passionate about making sure other women’s voices are heard as she is her own.
With a background in radio, Sumpter originally created Sistahs Connect in 2004 as an
online forum to connect with other women in her community. Over the years, Sistahs Connect evolved from a small group of women to a thriving Facebook group of nearly 2,000 members. However, with a message of sisterhood, Kimberly wanted to reach even more women, and podcasting was the perfect answer. “Creating a podcast has not only allowed me to spread my message to a larger audience, but it also gives the women that listen an opportunity to get their voices heard and to feel that they too are an important part of the conversation”, says Sumpter.
My favorite aspect of podcasting, by far, is its capacity to make our world smaller. Now, a new mom in Chicago can get a laugh from hilarious parenthood podcasts like Straight Outta Motherhood. Or, she can get inspiration from Mother Honestly, a podcast that aims to highlight the personal growth of ambitious moms. It’s at our finger tips whenever we need it. Sumpter agrees, stating that, “Podcasting has given me the power to not only share my message but it allows the women who are listening the ability to get inspiration on the go, whenever and wherever they need it.”
Anyone can use intention and technology to build a community. Sumpter learned that she needed to do more than simply create the community. She had to teach prospective listeners how to reach the community.
This can be a bit daunting, and frustrating, for podcasters. You think, “I have this awesome content that is valuable. Where are my listeners?” This is when you have to go out and find them. Sumpter had the benefit of a Facebook group to promote her podcast. Although Facebook is an excellent marketing tool for your podcast, give some thought to your targeted audience. Your listeners may not be on Facebook. Try other methods, ranging from local meetups to email lists. For other marketing ideas, check out my recent article “What Podcasters Can Learn From Beyoncé.”
In addition to teaching her audience how to subscribe, Sumpter has learned a key podcasting lesson: content is key. “I’m six months in and my only focus for now is being consistent, up leveling my audio and creating a show that someone would actually want to listen to and feel compelled to share.” She has mastered the art of balancing inspiration, education, and entertainment. With hundreds of thousands of podcasts, listeners have tons of choices for their road trip, commute, or household chore time (am I the only one who listens to podcasts while washing dishes?!)
However, Sumpter is excelling in continuing to build a community while ensuring that her existing community finds value in her podcast. Her ultimate goal for the podcast is “to continue to learn, grow, and stay on target with providing relevant and relatable content for women of color to consume, to build up listenership, and to someday, when the time is right, attract potential sponsors who want to reach my target audience.”
I have no doubt that Kimberly Sumpter will not only reach that goal but will create a ripple effect of empowerment for women across the globe. Kimberly is primed to rock the stage at the She Podcasts LIVE conference, October 11-13 in Atlanta. Find out more here.
Robin Kinnie is an experienced podcast producer, entrepreneur, and #womanowned advocate. Driven by community, she takes pride in creating access to underrepresented groups within the podcast industry. As the President of Motor City Woman and Audio Engineers of Detroit, her goal is to amplify the voices of women. Robin also serves as the head of Soundgirls.org, Detroit Chapter. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @RobinKinnie.