Women in Podcasting: Interview with Heather Bayer

Cottage Blogger Vacation Rental Success Podcast Podcasting NewsHeather Bayer is the host of the Vacation Rental Success podcast. It is part of the wealth of resources on her Cottage Blogger website, which is geared towards helping those who are vacation rental owners, vacation rental agencies and property managers, and vacation rental realtors. This is a topic that has not yet become saturated in podcasting.

When did you first start podcasting? What’s your experience in podcasting from then up to now?

I’d like to say it all started in 2006 because that’s when I first decided to do a podcast. I recently cleared out an old storage cupboard and found the original mixer I’d ordered from what used to be Radioshack, along with a microphone and a book called How to Start a Podcast. I remember getting so frustrated because I am not, and never have been, technically minded and while enthusiastic and motivated, I couldn’t figure out how to use the equipment. After a few weeks of trying and failing to find any training or tutorial that focused on the real beginner, I gave up.

Fast forward to 2012 and I was reading Pat Flynn’s blog and his experiences with podcasting, when I first heard about this guy called The Podcast Answer Man – Cliff Ravenscraft. From there it was an easy decision to sign up for his A-Z Course and spend a month immersed in getting set up and publishing the first episode of Vacation Rental Success.

From there the work really began. Cliff talks about the podcasters ‘wall’ and why many new shows fail to get beyond Episode 7 and I experienced exactly that. Over the first year episodes were published sporadically and by December 2013, there were only 7 – no wonder subscriber and download numbers were low!

We made a commitment at Cottage Blogger to publish consistently from January 2014 and were super-excited to release episode 50 in October. The show is in a niche market so we’ll never be in the million+ downloads-per-month club that some entrepreneur shows are reaching, but now we are fast approaching 35,000 downloads, mostly in the last 8 months, it’s really working for us.

What inspired you to become a podcaster?

I’m a lifelong learner and multi-tasker and found that so much information was being delivered through some great podcasts that I could listen to while driving, walking the dog, running, at the gym, at the airport and in the air….in fact everywhere. From shows about productivity techniques to lifestyle and motivational podcasts, there is something for everyone that is easily accessible via iTunes and some earbuds.

At the time, my niche was becoming a little more crowded with everyone delivering a similar message via blog posts so I wanted to do something different. The opportunity to reach a new audience through audio was wide open and I jumped at it. Once armed with the knowledge and resources to set it up, the rest was easy. I’m now inspired to help others to get started with their shows.

What kinds of things can listeners expect to hear on your Vacation Rental Success podcast? Is there a specific audience that would get the most from your show?

One of my recent guests described the vacation rental market as ‘a melting pot of complexity’ with over 5 million vacation home owners worldwide using rental as a means to create additional income. He called them ‘micro-businesses’. Given the growing interest in vacation rentals as a mainstream alternative to hotels and resorts, the opportunity has never been greater for vacation home owners to get into this business. So, anyone who has a second home, is thinking of investing in one, or already runs a VR business, would benefit from the information the show delivers.

I interview a range of guests from successful owners who share their experiences, to experts and suppliers in different parts of the industry. Shows have included interviews with a copywriter (for creating appealing listings), a professional photographer who shared tips on getting the best images of a property, social media gurus such as Sue B Zimmerman who explained how to use Instagram for marketing, and other leaders in the industry. I also offer tips from my experience of being a vacation rental home owner for over 20 years.

What words of wisdom do you have for women who want to get involved with podcasting?

This is what I am finding so exciting at the moment. Women are under-represented in podcasting and the opportunities are tremendous for them to get out there. I’m currently working with several vacation rental owners who are starting up their own podcasts in the travel and tourism sector (another category that has a long way to go before it gets saturated.)

Join a community where newbie and experienced podcasters hangout. I’ve found that people who are involved in this are so helpful and giving and are more than happy to offer advice and technical help if you get stuck.

I would also suggest that anyone interested in getting started goes to iTunes and checks out the great female podcasters who are rocking it over the airwaves. Listen to a few of them and their different styles. Elsie Escobar at Jessica Kupferman at She Podcasts offer a ton of help specifically directed at women podcasters.