June 21, 2022 I by Drew Holmes
How I Pivoted, Part 1
In the early days of COVID-19, like most businesses across the country, my B&O dealership, Boomer Music Company in Fort Collins, Colorado, was under a state-mandated, one-month closure.
Schools shifted away from in-person instruction and the needs of my core customers — music educators and their students — changed overnight. All this happened just as podcasting and remote learning were catching on like wildfire. I knew I needed to be a part of that conversation, so I decided to start a website selling podcasting gear.
I had only two problems: I didn’t know how to build a website, and I knew nothing about podcasting.
My concept for the website was simple. I aimed to target customers who had little or no podcasting or video production experience and help them create great content using free online software, a decent microphone, which they could find on our new website, and the cell phone already in their pocket. A quick web search revealed that the web domain ThePodcastingStore.com was available for $10, so I bought it.
Now, I needed to learn how to operate website builder WordPress. Luckily, one of my employees had web design experience, built the skeleton of the site and brought me up to speed enough so I could take it over. YouTube how-to videos and online learning community SkillShare filled in many of the remaining knowledge gaps.
Creating Videos 101
Next, I familiarized myself with podcasting equipment and how to use it. I wanted to understand my audience by using the same equipment in the same way and become an expert to support their needs. I decided to launch a YouTube page for the website and create and upload videos that showcased the gear I was selling while teaching potential customers how to use it.
I created the videos using my cell phone and the microphones available on ThePodcastingStore.com. I taught myself to edit sound using Audacity and video using Shotcut, the same free software that my customers would likely use. Overall, it took me about one full workday to get this process down enough to make a publishable video.
Since beginning this journey, my content-creation skills have improved significantly. These are skills I can no doubt translate to other portions of my business. I’m still using the same free software, cell phone and high-quality microphones, but I have gotten more proficient with these tools. A year ago, I had never attempted to create videos using multiple cameras or audio sources, and now I regularly use two or three at a time.
While the website has been a moderate success, adding this gear to our existing band-and-orchestra offerings has added tremendous value to our store overall. Branching out into these products has led to auditorium installations and P.A. sales — revenue we would have never received had I not started ThePodcastingStore.com. Not to mention our customers now trust our knowledge in these areas.
Has the effort been worth it? Absolutely. Expanding my ability to effectively communicate with my customers has been invaluable. Meanwhile, the website continues to grow into what I have always envisioned: A one-stop shop for all things podcasting.
Recently, I received a request from a customer outside my local area looking for advice to outfit a studio for his cryptocurrency podcast. Maybe I am cut out for this e-commerce thing after all. MI
Drew Holmes is the owner of Boomer Music Company, ThePodcastingStore.com and DrumsWest.com. He is based in Fort Collins, Colorado.