News & Events
Throughout the week of Podcast Movement 2023, Simplecast will be hosting two experts for hot coaching sessions at the booth: Traci DeForge and Jenn Trepeck. They are podcasters, producers, business owners, and colleagues, and have made it part of their goal to share the wealth of knowledge they have with other podcasters, from independent creators to business owners.
Traci DeForge started her audio career in broadcast radio and when she decided she wanted to strike out and make her own podcast, she couldn’t find the full-service studio she needed to help her produce the quality she needed. To the surprise of probably no one, considering the industrious and determined nature of podcasters, DeForge made her own magic, with colleagues and collaborators from her time in radio and created Produce Your Podcast alongside her flagship podcast, Journey to There.
“I created Produce your Podcast as a full service marketing and distribution agency to help other people like myself, who wanted a great sounding podcast, but just had no idea where to begin or didn't have the time to do it,” DeForge said. It’s a common refrain for podcasters, considering how many hats everyone on a podcast production team is usually wearing, and DeForge is delighted to see how many similar full-service agencies like this now exist in order to help podcasters make their stories.
For Jenn Trepeck, the host of Salad with a Side of Fries (produced by Produce Your Podcast), the decision to meld her health coaching business and her podcast started with that age-old story: “I'd gotten into listening to podcasts. And I remember thinking I could do this. [I]t's one of the beautiful things about podcasting is that almost anybody is capable.” In the process of growing that podcast in 2019, she ended up rebranding her business, which she started in the early 2000s as a side hustle, to the podcast – an uncommon move, as usually podcasts- are branded in service of the business.
From their varied experiences as creators and consultants, DeForge and Trepeck shared some insights on the business of podcasting to help continue to lay foundations for new, aspiring, budding creators in the podcast space – a taste of what you can expect at Podcast Movement 2023.
THE HOLISTIC PODCAST EXPERIENCE
A listener’s relationship with a podcast is more than just the time spent engaging with the audio and the platform they’re listening on. It’s a whole mesh of narrative, from the cover art, to descriptions and metadata, to marketing stories and social media posts. And yet, there are many aspects that can be lost in the shuffle and in the learning, so I asked them both what parts of crafting a podcast experience for a listener they would highlight:
Develop a complete idea about the format of your podcast
DeForge pulls on her past in radio, noting that in radio programming, “they have the top of the hour, the bottom of the hour, and they have different segments and content pieces throughout the the show. Podcasting is different because you don't want it to be so structured that the listener is [aware that] ‘this is structured’. That's one of the reasons why podcasting is so popular.”
Remember you have new listeners every episode
“I think there's something to be said for the entry points that you give new listeners, and recognizing that in every episode,” Trepeck says. “I think this applies to everybody…but especially as business owners and people looking to grow, every episode is potentially new listeners coming to you. If we forget, and we think that we're only talking to the people who are with us all the time, I think it's a big miss.”
A FOUNDATION FOR SELF-MARKETING
I asked DeForge and Trepeck what ideas or foundational steps they would recommend independent podcasters take when doing their own marketing, as marketing is one of the central barriers to audience growth and successful monetization. Marketing is expensive, either in terms of finances in order to hire a professional or in terms of time and energy in order to learn the skills needs to carry it off and then also deploy a plan.
Your whole audience isn’t just your listeners
Mostly, when people say “audience”, it’s interpreted as the people who listen to the show or who could potentially listen to the show (and in some cases, not even the latter). Trepeck points out that your whole audience includes your sponsors and partners and the potential ones, your social media following – even your unrelated newsletter about working through the 100 recipes in your favorite cookbook. Because you’re going to be presenting your marketing narrative everywhere, in bits and pieces sometimes – you might mention you have a podcast in the bio of an article you write about the history of whaling, or you might include it in a fun TikTok video that’s ten questions about yourself. It is absolutely crucial to be thinking about your whole audience through every step of the creation process.
Provide structure, and then use it to your advantage
Trepeck uses the ad space on her podcast for both sponsors and partners, but most importantly, she uses ad space to market herself – her merch, her events, her business. Many independent creators might have a Patreon, or another crowdfunding method, or specific kinds of work they offer to their audience like expert consulting or production. What’s important to recognize is that you need to make sure you’re thinking about your whole audience, and you’re thinking about ad space in a way that is authentic to your show, and is not grating to your listenership. That means using the ad space to market yourself when you need to, and making sure your audience knows that you have ads.
So even if you don’t have anything other than a Patreon or a newsletter, make sure you think about where to put your ads, and then keep them there. No matter what kind of podcast you make, you’re having a conversation with your audience, so don’t blurt out something totally inappropriate and surprising at the exact wrong moment. DeForge calls this the content arc: the way your episode is structured, and how you use that structure to support your audience, even if you’re doing something totally weird and different.
Craft standalone pieces of content out of the work you have already done.
At Produce Your Podcast, DeForge helps her nonfiction podcasters to come up with a “signature segment”, a smaller section within the larger episode that can then be extracted as a standalone piece of content. They did this with Salad with a Side of Fries, as the Nutrition Nugget – a segment presented at the end of her episodes that she also releases as its own bonus episode on her feed. This can be easily transformed into shareable audio for social media, marketing packages to potential sponsors, or – most importantly for Trepeck – entry points for new listeners.
The focus here is to remember that you don’t have to make new content on top of your regular episodes in order to have what you need to enhance your marketing, your presentations, or your connection with your audience.
THE INDUSTRY GRIND: SPONSORS AND PARTNERS
For independent creators, podcasting as long been a grind of finding and retaining sponsors and partnerships, while the industry has hemmed and hawed for years on whether there is money in audio or not. I asked DeForge and Trepeck their thoughts on this, and how independent producers might start this journey.
Trepeck, who started with affiliate relationships built by her coaching business, notes the importance of ethos alignment. “I think one of the biggest things to do to ensure that any partnership or promotion is successful in terms of driving revenue for the show, and for the partner who wants to be earning something from the relationship, is the alignment and the authenticity of the product or service that you're talking about.”
DeForge discusses an example of this from the past of Produce Your Podcast: “I was consulting with a client in the outdoor business space, and they were interviewing a celebrity athlete who had a spinal injury and recovered, and went from being, like, a world class skier to a coach. It was a fascinating episode, right? And then int he middle of the episode, listening to this conversation, the host goes “Do you have issues with your copywriting?”
We laughed at DeForge’s imitation of this, but what she’s describing is a fairly common multifold problem: ads in jarring places in the audio, for products or services wildly out of scope for the narrative it’s built into, without careful editing in order to guide listeners from story to ad. “[T]he number one thing,” DeForge emphasizes, “is never lose sight of what your listeners expect and want from you.”
If you'd like to sign up for a hot coaching, fill out our form. We'll see you at Booth #520 on the Podcast Movement 2023 expo hall floor!