Skimm Her Career: What It’s Like to Be A Podcast Host

Published on: Jul 28, 2021fb-roundtwitter-roundemail-round
Mandi Woodruff-Santos Design: ML Howell, Credit: Shane Samuels

Skimm Her Career is a series that highlights a variety of jobs, one working woman at a time. They do not necessarily reflect theSkimm's point of view. Do you know someone with an interesting career? Want to tell us about your own? Email us at money@theskimm.com.

Meet Mandi Woodruff-Santos, a personal finance expert who added "podcast producer" to her resume in 2015. That’s when she co-founded “Brown Ambition" – a weekly show covering finance, careers, wealth-building, and more – with her co-host Tiffany Aliche (aka “The Budgetnista”). It's been downloaded millions of times, was named one of the best personal finance podcasts by Business Insider, and has ranked as a top-five career pods on Apple Podcasts. NBD. We talked to Mandi about how she started her career as a podcaster and how it's going.

How I got started...I met my co-host Tiffany in 2014 and had the idea to do a podcast pretty immediately after…We've each had our own separate careers, but we've always come together for "Brown Ambition." We've been consistently recording and publishing episodes since 2015.

My educational background for this career...I like to say that I have a PhD in Googling. I had done a little bit of video editing in college [at the University of Georgia]. Editing audio wasn't that different. I looked up some YouTube videos on GarageBand editing shortcuts and then just kind of did it. Over the years, there were some technical snafus. Being a novice, there were a couple of times when I just wasn't recording at all or had to re-record my side of a conversation, but it’s all trial and error.

My starting salary and how it's grown...Our revenue comes from selling ads. We started an online store, where we sell T-shirts, coffee mugs, and other simple stuff. That's been a nice passive income stream. But neither Tiffany nor I have ever taken a cut [because we reinvest our "Brown Ambition" money into the business].

How I spend a typical day...We usually record every Monday at 5:30 pm, and I start preparing around 4 pm, looking at the news to see what's happening and what might be a good topic to cover in "Buzzworthy,” which is a [segment] where we talk about what's happening in the news or in our lives. Maybe I'll find something that's worthy of a "Brown Boost" or "Brown Break," our final segment. We use that time to boost something that we are excited about – we try to make it career, business or finance-related...Or we vent about something that is driving us a little nuts. And then I go through the listeners' questions that we get via email or Instagram.

What new podcasters need to get started…A microphone. Mine is a Yeti that cost like $100. I’ve had the same one for almost six years. I had my laptop and earbuds. The editing software was free with my Mac, but there's other free software like Audacity that you can use. A virtual studio, like the one we use called Riverside. And there's other bells and whistles like our website and domain, which you’ll need to renew every few years. We spent around $1,000 to pay someone to produce our website for us. And that was a one-time cost. Another startup cost is trademarking your podcast name. You’ll need a podcast hosting platform. We used Libsyn, which ranges from $5 to $50 a month. And you want to have your show on SoundCloud. [A Pro Unlimited subscription is $144 a year.] But it doesn't cost anything to get your show on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

My dream podcast guest…Elaine Welteroth [a journalist and current host of "The Talk"] because I stan for her so hard as a biracial woman in media. I have really been inspired by her career…I just love how authentic she seems and how she's been able to navigate her career while bringing her full self to the table. That is not easy to do.

Favorite podcast that isn't my own...NPR’s “The Indicator from Planet Money,” FANTI, and The Read

My best advice for an aspiring podcast host...Believe in the show that you are putting out there... Believe that there's a place for it and be committed to it because the downloads may not be there to begin with. Your audience may take a while to find your show. Doubt can creep in and so can a little bit of imposter syndrome...But have faith in yourself. It's like starting anything – whether it's a blog or a business, you really need to be committed and consistent and keep going.

Psst...this interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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Skimm'd by: Ivana Pino, Casey Bond, Stacy Rapacon, and Elyse Steinhaus