On Monday I’ll publish episode #63 of the While She Naps podcast. It’ll be the 24th episode I’ve produced this year and will mark my second complete year as a podcaster.
Last year around this time I reflected on what it was like to produce the show in the first year. These were the things I listed as important at that time (feel free to read that post for more details on each one):
- Figuring out guests is a big job.
- Booking guests isn’t a big job.
- Every guest requires several hours of research on my part.
- The show needs to be interesting in the first 30 seconds.
- Sound quality matters.
- Being perfect doesn’t matter.
- Marketing each episode is my job.
- Organized archives are important.
- It takes time for people to listen. Be patient
I’m nodding my head as I look back at this list. It’s all still true. With another year of making this show under my belt, though, I have some additional reflections. So, here are my thoughts on producing a podcast at the end of year two.
It’s possible to monetize. I actually love podcast ads as a listener. I think they’re intimate and memorable and, if you do them right, they’re fun, too. Partway through the year I set up a very simple sponsorship program for my show and I’ve really enjoyed working with the eight indie businesses that sponsored episodes this year. And a funny thing happened last week – I sold more sponsorship spots for 2016 than I had shows booked. This is the first time that’s happened and it gives me hope that this podcasting thing might be financially sustainable for me.
Record in-person shows whenever possible. I record most of my interviews through Skype (using eCamm Call Recorder), but I was able to do four in-person shows this year (Deborah Balmuth, Stephen Fraser, Vivika DeNegre and Cate Prato, and Jenny Rushmore whose show will air on Monday) and I’m struck with what a difference it makes in the quality of the conversation. To sit across the table and read someone’s body language as they talk? It can’t be beat. I’m hoping to use my portable mic more next year.
Don’t take pitches. Part of my role as a podcaster is to curate the guests that come on the show. I treasure that role. I choose who I think is interesting to talk to and then I talk to them. This keeps my show unique. I’ve found that when someone pitches to be on my show, they’re likely pitching to be on lots of shows. Hearing someone again and again on the crafty podcast circuit waters down the power of their story. I much prefer the underexposed guest to the overexposed one. (When I had Geninne Zlatkis on the show this year she’d never been on a podcast and many of her fans had never heard her voice. It was magical. That episode has been downloaded 12,015 times – an all time record for my show.)
Hang in there. Many, many people who start podcasting with enthusiasm and energy end up podfading within the first six months. Their show just sorta dies. Podcasting is a lot of work, even with a show that is very lightly edited like mine. It’s a constant cycle of booking guests, doing research, recording, editing, writing show notes, and marketing the episode. I like listening to a startup podcast to get fresh ideas. Podcasting is not the sole focus of my job. It’s just one of many, many things I do. In order to stick with podcasting you’ve got to both totally love it and make yourself work on it even when you don’t want to.
Podcasting is awesome. It’s made me a better listener. It’s made me a better journalist. It’s connected me with a new audience and given me an excuse to call everyone I’ve ever found interesting and ask them an hour’s worth of questions. I have a full line up of guests booked for the spring and I’m ready to go! Bring on year #3.
Jess @ Quilty Habit says
Great blog post, Abby (as usual)! I love your honesty and I admire you so much as a journalist. Keep the great things coming.
I like that you don’t take pitches. It keeps things fresh and genuine. Congrats on another successful year and I look forward to many more to come!
Great read! Thank you for inspiring and supporting me this year. You rock!
I’ve only listened to about six of the podcasts so far. But they’ve been amazing. I so enjoyed hearing about how businesses grew and the people behind them. They’ve been keeping me company while I work on a couple commissioned memory quilts. And I can’t wait to listen to more of them. Enjoy the third year!
PS… The advertising is cool too because it feels like a mini interview in the middle of the podcast.
That’s my goal. I think it can be really fun and interesting if you do the midroll ad as an interview!
Your podcast is one of my favorites. I love the balance of questions you ask about invidiuals’ creative processes, as well as practical and realistic information about the business and social media and editorial aspects of being a professional. I am a creative person and I love making things, and though I never plan on starting a creative business, I find it all fascinating. What an interesting world we live in, right?
I haven’t listened to nearly so many podcasts this year as the guests have not appealed to me as much (as a home crafter/someone who sells on a tiny scale). The guests seem more commercial, more formally organised and even corporate and at times rather distanced from the craft they are meant to be aligned with. Agents and crafting don’t make cosy partners for me to hear about. Even if people are still craft based, they don’t interest me so much anymore, as that is not the kind of business I like to support or aspire to being part of myself. Not as buyer or seller.
I dislike being used as a stepping stone by the current small scale/cottage industry seller who actually aspires to licensing and greater commercial success but piggy backs off the whole ‘home spun’ thing along the way, while wanting to ultimately dump it for the ‘big time’. That exists already in my local shopping mall, and without the hype that it is something ‘different’, when it really isn’t. I’m for supporting the cottage industries and true independents that enjoy being just that. Obviously that is down to personal taste. It can feel either that I am being marketed to or that egos are being massaged. I don’t enjoy either. The quilting industry particularly, is of no interest to me as it seems like big business with agendas to match, that belie its homespun roots. I don’t need loads of tools, celebrity designers, mass marketing etc. They are the antithesis to what I enjoy. And I don’t want to hear about those who are part of it, or wish to be part of it. That is unsurprisingly why I was attracted to blogs that make things – including this one, that are directed at the home crafter – to bypass all the other stuff. I don’t feel necessarily that I am the target audience anymore. Perhaps I never was.
My favourite podcast was with Alicia Paulson, who I found both relevant and interesting to me. Also Cal Patch as both directly enable people. There are now often people I have never heard of, who while bigger in the commercial world, are not that inspiring to me personally when you listen to them unfortunately. I think your readership is changing and perhaps that is intentional. I was drawn very much by the handcrafting element of your blog, not the business side – or at least not aspiring to break into the big time, and that seems now to have taken a back seat. Absolutely your choice not mine. Emulating big business or getting involved with it, is not a model I look up to or like to involve myself with. Fair enough that your content seeks to satisfy your new readership not me. I am sure they do want these things. I hardly listen to the podcasts anymore though. Ultimately I no longer find the guests relevant to my interests or on my wave length. I certainly don’t like ads on podcasts and have switched off many other producers who expect me to listen for 10 minutes before they get to the guests and then have several interruptions- it never happens now I am wise to such things, I switch off. I dislike the constant reminder that everything has a price and a value determined by money alone. And if that is the only way I get to have podcasts then well, I would rather not have them at all – I have survived thus far! People who do interesting things admirably are not necessarily interesting people either and often don’t make good listening. More than a few people have surprised me by showing this, as their blogs and what you think you know about a person sometimes doesn’t add up, when hearing them in person.
I don’t like where blogging has gone either, so many of them are now monetised and there for business purposes only. Or it has come to a grinding halt with people going to other mediums like instagram. It used to be purely for the joy of sharing. Naïve of me to expect things not to move on I am sure, and I always have that choice to do likewise I know.
I am definitely interested in the business side of the craft industry, both how independent people who make things can turn that desire into a viable business as well as the big businesses that already exist and how they operate. It sounds like neither of these are interesting to you, Sara, so I can see how my show is not a good fit.
Kelly Caiazzo says
All the podcasts I listen to have sponsors… while the sponsor ads are not as enjoyable to listen to as the content, I consider it a fair price for all the content being created and offered to me for free. I can’t imagine the amount of work it takes to curate a guest list, conduct the interviews, edit the podcast, publish it… and many pod-casters even pay for additional bandwidth or hosting.
I don’t think the “bloggers are monetized and there for business only” sentiment is the right way of looking at things.
There are many people in the creative world who would not be able to devote the time they do to their craft if they weren’t able to earn back some money for their efforts to offset the time spent and the costs of materials. I don’t mind seeing an ad or listening to a sponsorship when the alternative might be losing voices in the creative industry.
If a blogger can devote more time to the work they love because they’ve found a way to monetise their blog, and therefore can invest more money into craft materials, work less at another job, etc., then I think that’s awesome. I love that. That’s worth seeing some ads in the sidebar or having a post here and there with affiliate links (to products I may even be interested in).
Many bloggers and podcasters curate their list of sponsors as carefully as they curate their list of guests or the content of their posts.
I love all the free content on the internet, but I know it’s not actually free. I’m happy to “pay” my share by listening to a sponsored ad or purchasing from an affiliate link on occasion if I was going to buy a product anyway.
I’ve been listening to your podcasts over the past 2 years and always look forward to them. I enjoy listening to your guests and hearing about the business side of their crafting, what worked for them and how they got to where they are…often it seems quite unexpectedly! And its lovely to see people earning a living doing something they love. Looking forward to year #3 and great news about all your sponsors.
Maryruth W. says
I’ve been a listener for about a year, Abby, and always enjoy the podcast even if I’m not terribly interested in the specific craft your guest creates. I am impressed that you always ask the question I would ask, and really get to the nitty gritty of what makes a viable (or in many cases non-viable) business. I work in a big box craft store, and see people every day who are attempting to create a revenue stream on Etsy or off their Facebook page. In most cases they are victims of wishful thinking about how big an audience they can command or the margins they can achieve. Your episodes highlight just how much WORK is involved in building a sustainable business. It is not for the lazy or unmotivated. I’m looking forward to another year of insightful episodes.
It must be sorta fascinating to hear the conversations about creative business at the store where you work. With each interview I realize more and more how long it takes to build something sustainable and how much work is required. It might look easy, but nothing great is easy!
Elaine @ Beech Tree Lane Handmade says
Abby: I love all your podcasts and always listen to them while I am sewing (if not in the car sometimes)! Thanks for all your hard work on these. They are very interesting and have introduced me to people I never would have known about.
Thanks so much for sharing your insights. I agree with those who appreciate the hard work you put into organizing and producing a quality podcast.
Ariane K says
I’ve been listening to fewer podcasts, purely because I’ve had a bit less time for it while working on Textillia, but yours is one I never miss. Meighan O’Toole’s, Crafty Planner, and Seamwork are the other crafty ones that even if it takes me a while to catch up on, I always listen to. And I think you nailed it when you brought up research and sound quality. Those are the two things that for me make a podcast truly worth listening to. (Of course, sound quality early on can be forgiven, but at some point it needs to not be jarring to the ears, and I appreciate those podcasters who really get their volume levels and quality worked out!)
Research is the #1 thing (aside from topic matter) that makes me a loyal listener – you can really tell when someone has put time in learning about their interviewee, and also like you say “curated” their guest choices. And I love that you and the other faves I mentioned above are not afraid to go “too deep” (in a sense of teasing apart social issues or nuances or getting academic/deconstructing topics) and aren’t just about promoting the latest popular designer or trend. It’s obvious that you put a lot of work into the show. I guess this is my way of saying thanks for continuing to make a great podcast that is really valuable to the crafty world, I hope to listen to many more episodes!
Thank you for listening, Ariane!
Patricia Belyea says
Abby—Thanks for your reflections. It reminded me of the importance of reflecting on my own past twelve months before I plow ahead into the new year. Holiday best, PB
I discovered your podcast over the summer. I was plastering, painting, ripping up carpet in my current bedroom. I couldn’t imagine that a “sewing blog” could engage me with a podcast, but decided to give it a spin. Wow! I was completely hooked from the first episode. I listened to your entire catalog while I was working. I learned so much! I’m a devoted fan, and now read your newsletter and blog regularly. (I found you when I was googling doll patterns.) I’m looking forward to hearing more!
That’s so awesome! Thank you for sharing this. Your story and stories like this really keep me going. Thank you!
Sharica R says
Hello Abby, this year-end is a good time to thank you for all the valuable work you’ve put in to provide such a great podcast. Your podcast was one of the first I discovered. I can’t even remember how. It has been a great source of inspiration as well as practical help ever since. I suspect your experience as a teacher is peeking through the tapestry of what you are creating here. It’s a great backdrop to your work. Can you tell I think the world of teachers? Please, keep up the good work. I look forward to listening in in 2016!
Irene Dodd says
I think I’ve listened to every one of your podcasts and have enjoyed them all. I’m grateful that you continue podcasting on a regular basis, and that your podcast has become something I can always count on. I often “save them up” so that I can listen to more than one. Your podcasts are like a good book: I’m sad when they come to and end!
Thank you for your interesting interviews, insightful musings and fearless “reporting”. I especially like that you don’t back away from controversial topics, like the pay rate for presenters, or the fact that Etsy has changed many of it’s policies.
Keep up the great work! Your efforts have paid off.
Glenna Walker says
Congratulations on 2 years of podcasting. Hope you plan to stick around for many more as I do enjoy them so much. Thanks for all your hard work.
I certainly do!
Tsoniki Crazy Bull says
I’m playing catch up on reading blogs and love this. I started my second podcast late in 2014 and in (if I remember w/o looking it up) inadvertently stopped producing the show in the summer of 2015. I thought I would take a short break while I packed up from living in France, visited family and friends in the US, and got settled in Italy. Fast forward to early 2016 and who would have thought I’d be living in a place that had terrible internet and sometimes a months (with an s!) long wait to get internet service to your home. My husband came before the kids and I and we are crossing our fingers to have service by the end of January. I am happy that other podcasters are making it because I certainly miss it!