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From zero to a 300+ guest waitlist: launching a health podcast in a pandemic

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When his hours were cut due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Kevin Pho suddenly found himself with a lot of free time on his hands. He decided to use this time to start a podcast and the results will really surprise you.

Dr. Kevin Pho, is the founder of KevinMD.com. Since 2004, physicians, advanced practitioners, nurses, medical students, and patients have been telling their stories on the site about the challenges they face in our country’s healthcare system.

In 2020, like many other primary care physicians, Dr. Pho was furloughed because his clinic was seeing fewer patients due to the pandemic. It’s strange to think of furloughing doctors in the middle of a health crisis, but that’s what happened. 

Kevin had spent 17 years building a popular web platform, KevinMD.com, which receives over 3 Million monthly page views and has over 250,000 followers on Twitter and Facebook.  The success of the website was awesome, but Dr. Pho wanted to find new ways to engage his audience where they live and play.

When you’re faced with a workplace change that’s out of your control, what do you do? What’s a passionate doctor to do when he finds himself with pandemic-induced free time and a desire to keep building his platform? I bet you can guess the answer.

Solution:

“I’d always wanted to start a podcast, and I listen to podcasts regularly. But I really didn't know the first thing about starting a podcast. But I definitely wanted to expand my platform.”

Dr. Pho had always wanted to start a podcast but didn’t know where to begin so he did a lot of reading and research on podcasting:

He decided to start his daily podcast, The Podcast by KevinMD, by inviting guest writers from KevinMD.com to share their stories on his show. 

His aim was to create a show that was digestible and full of stories from the world of healthcare. His plan was to create daily 15-20 minute episodes that were easy to listen to in the car or on the treadmill.

Dr. Pho believes that the strength of his show is that he allows his guests to tell their stories in their own words. And it's so much more powerful when they can have a direct connection to his audience rather than just reading their stories on the website. 

Dr. Pho’s research and instincts about expanding his platform were spot on. Within an hour of emailing his writers to let them know about his new podcast he had all his podcasting spots for 2020 filled! He now has a waitlist of over 300 people who want to be a guest on his show! 

“Podcasting is important because people get their news in so many different ways, whether it's newspaper, email newsletter, going to a website, etc., but so many people get their news from podcasts as well. Having a platform like I do with KevinMD.com, now having a podcast is a natural extension of that. And just since June 1, I've learned so much and also met so many physicians across the country, going through the same things that I'm going through and just learning from them.”

One of his main goals with the KevinMD Podcast is to clear up a lot of the medical misinformation that’s so common today. People going online to look for health care information is the third most popular reason why people go online. As a physician, he feels a responsibility to go where patients are getting their health information online and bring accurate, trustworthy information. This is especially critical in a pandemic, but has been his goal for over 14 years.

Kevin's advice to new podcasters

1.  Just do it. When he goes back and listens to his first 10 to 15 episodes, they were pretty rough. But, he kept going and now with more than 250 episodes under his belt, he has certainly improved.

2. Sit back and let your guests shine. Over his first 250 episodes, Dr. Pho has learned how to really connect with his guests and make them look good. Dr. Pho says this is a skill he will definitely take back into active medical practice with him.

3. Come up with a workflow so that you can sustain your podcast for more than six months. With two young daughters and a wife at home, he obviously had to learn how to balance seeing patients, podcasting and spending time with his family. 

“The biggest piece of advice is just to jump in and do it. That was the biggest advice for me. So you keep worrying that everything has to be perfect, right? Especially talking to other doctors, doctors have type A personalities, they want to be perfect. No matter what stage your podcast is in, just put it out there and it will get better over time and over a shorter time than you think. Because really there's no better way to improve than in a live situation.”

Dr. Pho's Podcast Setup

  • Blue Yeti microphone with a pop filter
  • Razor video camera
  • Cheap headphones
  • Laptop computer
  • iMovie for editing his videos
  • Alitu for editing his audio

How did Alitu help?

“I think when Alitu came in, it just made the process and transition into podcasting, very, very seamless. And it really helped me make the transition.”

Podcasting was something Dr. Pho had been thinking about for years, but Alitu was the perfect tool for him to make the move into podcasting without a lot of technical background. 

He found Alitu through a Google search when he was looking for podcasting tools. He wanted something that didn’t require a lot of technical knowledge. After looking at other tools he also decided he wanted something cloud-based because he wanted to automate post-production to be as easy as possible for his new podcast.

Alitu helped Kevin create a podcast that met his standards without having to figure out all the technical stuff on his own. 

“Alitu just gives me the features that I need and a lot of it is automated. That’s exactly what I wanted. I was able to figure it out on my own with zero podcasting experience. And I came up with an episode that was fantastic.’

Dr. Pho's favorite podcasts

Where to find Dr. Pho on the web

KevinMd.com

The Podcast by KevinMD on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-podcast-by-kevinmd/id1515033137

The Podcast by KevinMD on Google Podcasts:  https://podcasts.google.com/?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9rZXZpbm1kLmxpYnN5bi5jb20vcnNz

The Podcast by Kevin MD on Spotify:  https://open.spotify.com/show/3IbkuWWy0WRrpLkO8xvnAC


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