Every podcast success story is a bit different – because the person who has experienced it has walked a different path to get TO a place of success. It isn’t a bed of roses – or maybe it is – because that would be REALLY thorny – and it’s never simple or complicated. And for most, our journey toward becoming a podcaster begins WAY BACK in the early days of life.
That’s how it was for Darla Powell.
When she was young, she loved the creative things in life. By the time she graduated high school she had no clue what to do with her natural interests. So she dove into the first real opportunity to come along and stayed with it for 18 years.
EIGHTEEN YEARS of doing something she wasn’t in love with. Sometimes it’s necessary – and Darla is the first to acknowledge the benefits her career in law enforcement provided, but she’s still quick to say that she never was truly excited about it. So how did she make the transition into something she loved, something that harkened back to her early days as a kid? You’ll have to listen to find out.
But I’ll tell you this – it involves a growing sense of agitation toward law enforcement country-wide AND a mid-life crisis. Darla’s story is a GREAT story. You’re going to enjoy hearing how she made the transition from cop to interior designer and how her podcast played a major role in making it all happen.
Here’s how this one shakes out…
- [0:04] Do you remember the pivotal time we call “high school graduation?”
- [5:38] Growing up in Florida and loving the creative side of life – YET she became a cop
- [8:30] Darla was forced to rethink the path she was on after 18 years
- [10:05] The first interior design gig – and a new path forward opened up
- [13:06] Questions to ask to help you find a new business opportunity
- [19:44] The story behind this narrative style of podcast production
- [24:01] What makes Darla so good at social media (her tips for you)
- [26:07] Podcasters – be yourself!
- [29:58] How podcasting enables the incredible results it does
- [36:28] Darla’s tips for podcasters and those considering becoming a podcaster
If you know someone whose story would make a great PODCASTER STORY episode, feel free to make that introduction.
Resources and links mentioned
- Darla’s Wingnut Social Services and Podcast
- Darla Powell Interiors – and my favorite “Miami Office With A Twist”
- My Nick Loper Podcaster Story episode
- Darla/Wingnut on Instagram: @DarlaPowellInteriors
- A Life Well Designed Podcast
- Architectural Digest Feature: Designers Share 12 of Their Favorite Podcasts
- One article featuring Darla in Designers Today Magazine
- Business of Home Magazine – featuring Darlas thoughts on social media outsourcing
- Abbi McCullom episode on Wingnut Social
- Nick Loper: Side Hustle Nation
- Jonathan Messinger’s podcast: The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian
- The songs “Fife and Drum” and “Shaving Mirror” Kevin MacLeod (www.incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
- My narrative interview production house: Narrativly
Upon graduation from high school Darla was like many of us (me included)… moving into an adult world without a CLUE what she was going to do
She says she barely graduated with a D plus average. She took a couple of classes at the local community college, but by her own admission was lost.
“I was like, What I’m gonna do? I have no idea what to do.”
She sold cars – diet plans – etc. UNTIL she saw an advertisement in the newspaper about an open position as a Wildlife Officer in the State of Floriday (her home state). She assumed she’d be a Park Ranger if she was hired and could hang out with the birds and Bambi all day.
She was wrong. It was actually a law enforcement position. But she applied anyway. After jumping through all the hoops she became a certified police officer in the state of Florida but was a Game Warden. Not what she wanted to be. So she decided to go back home to Miami and applied with Miami Dade Police Department. She was hired and settled in – for 18 years.
It often turns out that once you’ve opted for that kind of security, you wind up sticking with the decision for the long haul. Even if it’s a decision, that’s not good for you. And over the years, law enforcement took its toll on her. Listen to hear the whole story.
Sometimes the road signs pointing to the future are in your past
When Darla was a kid, she used to redecorate her room every week. She would rearrange her furniture, hang paintings up, take paintings down – you know, play with the interior design elements of the room. But she had no idea that was an avenue that could be done professionally. No guidance counselors ever said, “Hey, did you know you could do art or interior design? You know, there’s people to get paid for this.” So she graduated high school, eventually joind the police department, and stayed in the security of a full time position for years – 18 years to be precise.
And she says it was soul-sucking work. Not because it was law enforcement. Not because it was dangerous (and it was – it’s Miami, Dade County), but because as a government position it didn’t allow much room for personal input or creativity. Even if you did a great job you got paid the same as all the other people in your position who were not doing a great job. It was pretty demotivating.
That’s when something disturbing – and AMAZING happened…
“I had a little midlife crisis at 47/48 and said to myself, ‘You know, I’ve always loved design. I’m not really too big on the cop stuff – never really have been. It’s a great job with job security, but not my passion.’ The climate in law enforcement really just went downhill quick. It was becoming way more dangerous to be a cop, you know, It’s a thankless job and it was becoming an impossibly thankless job. We were depressed all the time because everybody hated cops, seemingly – you know, if you watch the news. That, combined with my midlife crisis caused me to start giving it some more thought . ‘Well, you know, life is short, This isn’t my passion, and it’s becoming more and more thankless. Is it worth just having a steady check coming in every two weeks?’”
It was right around that point that Darla got her first opportunity to actually get paid for doing interior design.
You could say it was luck. You could say it was fortuitous timing. But whatever you want to call it, the fact remains that Darla had to be the one to make a change, to step out on the limb, to jump off the cliff, or any other tired analogy you want to use to describe it.
This episode is about that – Darla’s choice to make a change in your life – at 48 years old.
The “new business” idea that came from working in her own new business
Darla started her business by “putting up a shingle virtual shingle on Facebook.” She didn’t really expect much to come from it. But she found that she had a knack for Social Media marketing, and potential clients started calling. That made her all the more eager to learn the ins and outs of social media so she could make sure she was doing it right. And that’s exactly what wound up happening. She did it SO right that other designers started calling her asking who was doing her social media.
In her own words.. “After several of them started asking me, I was like, ‘You know, there’s a need for this in the industry, for interior designers to find someone that can speak “design” and do social media marketing well for them.’ So I figured, ‘Hey, I have one business. Why not have two? How hard can it be be?’”
And tucked away in that story is a GOLD MINE of insight for podcasting, if you know how to dig it up…
On this episode, I outline them. But here they are in a nutshell…
- People who do what you do, need the same things you need.
- If you can figure out a system to deliver those things to them with high quality and great results, you just found an amazing opportunity to create a business
So think that through in light of your podcasting niche. If you listen to this episode, I’ll walk you through some important questions to help you do that.
But there’s a lot more to what Darla has to share than just that. Her experiernce as a social media service provider is not something I could just let pass me by. I had to ask her for some tips!
Some of the points Darla made are…
- Social media is the “top of the funnel” – and you want it to drive leads
- Consistency is vitally important
- Doing great work on social is important too
- And don’t forget, social media is supposed to be “social” – so interact with people
- BE YOURSELF!
Darla elaborates on all of those great points, in the audio of this episode (just go hit the play button, arleady!)
What sort of benefit might a podcast produce for you? Here’s what it did for Darla
Darla started her podcast in August of 2018 – 7 months after I recorded this conversation with her. It was TOTALLY a result of the podcast that Darla and her business partner Natalie (co-host on the show) have gotten…
- Speaking gigs
- Exposure in industry magazines
- New clients searching them out
Isn’t that EXACTLY what they were wanting the podcast to do for them? Yep, it sure was.
Of course, nobody can guarantee results that quick to happen from someone starting a podcast. But Darla’s story demonstrates what’s possible, and she had some thoughts about what MAKES it possible…
“When people hear your podcast, you’re in their ear all the time. That’s kind of an intimate situation. They feel like they’re friends with you, like they really know you. And if you deliver the goods and that is by giving content and, you know, design advice or marketing advice and they use it – you give them some actionable information with each episode – then they trust you. That makes you to-of-mind for them. Then, maybe a year from now, or maybe six months from now, or maybe tomorrow, they say, ‘Hey, I needed someone to help me market my business. Oh, yeah, Darla over at WingnutSocial, she has all these great tips. She’s really smart. And I enjoy her podcast.’ Then they pick up the phone and call.”
And business has grown so fast for Darla, she says they can barely keep up. They now have two full time employees on the Wingnut side of the business, and two part time employees. I’ve seen it happen that way over and over for my clients. Not always in that time frame, but it does happen. Why? Because it’s how content marketing, which Darla’s brand of podcasting is,actually works. It’s a long play that brings benefits over time. So don’t get discouraged if your download numbers aren’t growing like you’d hoped. Just keep publishing great content and making people aware of it, and you’ll see the benefits in time.
When I asked Darla what that kind of exposure is worth to her…
“It’s, wow… gosh, um, I think it’s priceless! First of all, even if it didn’t if not one client came from the show, I just enjoy doing the podcast so much that for me it’s priceless. It’s just so much fun. But you know, maybe ask me in a year and I’ll tell you how many clients we’ve gotten from it. I don’t have any numbers in front of me, but it’s a lot. First of all, you know, the magazine exposure brought in clients. We have clients calling from that and getting that visibility on the design side by getting asked to speak it events at High Point Market and that’s why I don’t have a dollar amount for you.
But in my mind, it’s priceless. Having the podcast – that’s really what has made like the magazines really focus in and made us so unique. Because not only do I have this industry exposure and knack for social media marketing, I’m also a relatively decent interior, you know? So the visibility has been crazy, and, you know, and I have to tell you I’m pretty exhausted.”
Podcasting dos and don’ts from a gal who’s been there
Full disclosure here, Darla is a client of mine. But she had already started her podcast on her own when she discovered that she couldn’t and didn’t want to do all the behind-the-scenes stuff like editing and show notes creation herself. That’s when she reached out to my team.
But there were many lessons-learned she had to experience herself. I’m always curious how each person, with their unique personality, describes those difficulties – so I ask them. In Darla’s case, she had 3 primary things she wanted new podcasters to understand…
The first thing I would say is just to make sure that you do your research and get halfway decent audio equipment, I think that’s really important.
The next thing I would say, is to make sure you get really good editors because it makes a huge difference. I’m telling you, if I had to do this all by myself, it would not be nearly as good as it is. Our editor, that works for Podcast Fast Track, Jonathan – he does such a good job of making us sound smart, So I would definitely say to invest in a good editor and make sure that your show at the end has some kind of production value.
And if you can record on separate tracks when you have guests, that’s great, because this goes back to the editing, too. In case you’re talking over each other, your tracks can be separated, so it doesn’t sound like just one big noise ball in there and it just just makes it just sounds so much more professional. It’s so much more fun to listen to.
I can’t tell you how many podcast I’ve tried and the subject matter was great, but it was unlistenable because everybody’s talking over each other. If I’m listening to a podcast, it has to have some quick flow, some smooth editing, but to the point where you can’t really tell it’s edited. It sounds just natural.
Don’t think you have to wait until everything is perfect. Just start, because I guarantee you my first 10 episodes were rough. You know, they get better as you go. Just get him out there, start doing it, build your audience. Don’t wait, you know, get out there and just do it.