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Dreams came true, how a side hustle turned into a career

BALTIMORE – When you hear the phrase “side hustle,” what do you think of? Things like a shoe cleaning business or a car cleaning service, sure, but not a podcast engineer.

Leon Stanford has turned his side hustle into a full-time job.

He used to work a “9-5”, and during that time he looked to the future.

“I was doing my regular 9-5, and I was reading a lot of self-help books, listening to seminars and all those things. I was constantly trying to expand my mind, and therefore, I wanted to push this information was getting,” Stanford said. “It’s an opportunity here, you know, you’re looking for some kind of need in the market and then you’re filling a void. So that’s what company I come from.”

Calling himself a content specialist, he operates out of a small studio in downtown Baltimore called Digital Empath Studios. The studio space has two rooms, one for photography and the other for podcasts.

Leon Stanford

The name comes from his passion for helping people.

“That’s the way to bridge the gap and put people first, so that’s where empathy comes from. And as fate would have it, the studio part happened because it didn’t wasn’t available when I was looking for domain names,” Stanford joked.

However, the set up wasn’t always so sexy as he used to operate from his basement.

Now the location works to accommodate everyone as it is in a neutral zone where everyone can feel safe. Trying to set up a basement as a meeting place was not ideal.

“It really fired me up to go and look for commercial locations and I ended up deciding on this because downtown is a core area,” Stanford said.

At first, he also had trouble using the equipment. It came with a lot of trial and error, he says.

“I originally went to Free University on YouTube and learned a lot of techniques there,” Stanford said. “I looked at a bunch of the best cameras, mics and gear and then realized I couldn’t afford the best. As things change I’m going to have to improve and I’m going to have to keep improving. teach me.”

It was the same way when it came to learning how to edit content.

Camera setup.jpg

Leon Stanford

“A lot of things you start observing just by looking at other people’s stuff of a different style, but I want to imitate it, I want to be able to replicate it,” Stanford said.

Currently, Stanford oversees about 12 podcasts with 14 more on the horizon. If that sounds like a lot of work for one person, it is, so he has a team behind him.

The team is made up of editors, photographers and videographers. They were all trained by him.

“So I looked at them and my biggest thing is why you want to do what you want to do,” Stanford says. “The idea is that whoever is on this team has to try and if they don’t I don’t want them.”

The goal is to keep growing and he wants to reach 50 podcasts by the end of the year.


Leon Stanford

50 podcasts means lots of people coming in and out of the studio. Lots of people means dealing with lots of personalities.

Digital Empath Studios’ Leon Stanford prepares to record

Stanford isn’t worried, he even says managing the personalities is the easy part.

“The hard part is being on time, usually, that’s usually the hardest part, because sometimes a show starts or they start late and then another show is right behind them. You can’t run two hours or an hour longer time, because I bill by the hour.”

So if you’re thinking of starting a podcast, Digital Empath Studios isn’t a bad option.

Leon Stanford shows off his recording setup

“Understand why you want to start your show and be realistic about where you want it to go,” Stanford says.

To say his dream was distant would be misleading, as Stanford had been imagining this success since he was 15 years old.

“I understood what the call was and was able to use my imagination. It’s like, okay, I have this vision in my head… now I have to bring it to life,” Stanford added.

To learn more about Digital Empath Studios, click here.

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