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Today’s guest is Jessica Rhodes from The Podcast Producers.

Reasons to do narrative style

  • Jessica explains that putting on a narrative podcast is going to make you a thought leader in that industry. It brings you a lot of credibility because of the amount of work that goes into it, the production and high quality of the style of podcasts. It makes you come across as a lot more serious about what you’re doing. Interview style podcasts are great but when you put out a narrative show, you are putting out a quality of show that is so much higher than the majority of shows out there so it really does set you apart from the crowd.
  • There is a lot of work both in preparation and post production. There are so many podcasts now. People want to podcast because they want to make money and be famous and they want the easiest way to do it. Well, the reality is if you want to be super famous or successful or make a lot of money, you have to put in the hard work. There is no fast path to a lot of success. A narrative style podcast is a lot of work but you will get a lot of recognition and exposure with a really quality show.

Planning and Preparation for a Series

  • You need to know and have a good understanding of who your audience and target listener is. You also need to know what the story arc is. The difference between a narrative and another type of podcast show is that there’s a story arc; there’s a beginning, a middle and an end.
  • When preparing for their show, Jessica and Corey were thinking about the fact that they were talking to podcasters. What are the questions that podcasters have? What do podcasters think and talk a lot about? They brain dumped all the different topics that came to mind and then on a Google spreadsheet moved them around in a different order and thought strategically about what the right order would be and how that story would be told.
  • Jessica’s advice is to think about who your target listener is and what the goal of the show is. What is the story that you’re trying to tell?

The interviews

  • When you’re thinking about what types of interviews to have on, remember that your guests ARE the show. When you have a narrative based podcast featuring a lot of different guests, you need to be ok with not being the front and center spotlight. The creators are the puppeteers, asking the right questions to allow the guests to tell the story. Jessica was strategic about having guests on from a variety of different categories of podcast, different experience levels, some well known and some not super successful.
  • A good podcast in Jessica’s opinion is not one with just a big name, but one with good content, good production quality, good sound quality and a host who really, really digs their show. She would advise against hosting a narrative show and only trying to get the big names. A narrative show is beautiful because it’s bringing voices to so many different people that you don’t hear on every other podcast.

Tips for having a good interview

  • The difference in doing a narrative style podcast is that the interviews are not meant to be heard just raw and uncut, so it’s not just this flowing conversation. It feels a little choppy because it will get cut and pasted into different episodes.
  • The best tip Jessica ever heard and the best advice that she can give is actually a tip from Mark Maron at Podcast Movement: listen. When you’re interviewing, really listen and let your guest do as much of the talking as possible, especially in a narrative based podcast.
  • Corey also taught her this: the best part of the interview, the best stuff, is going to come after at least 15 minutes. So if you can, have your interviews go for a minimum of 30 minutes. Sometimes you can only get guests for 30 minutes but if you can have someone on with you for an hour, the stuff that comes after that 15-20 minute mark is going to be the best. You’re just breaking the ice after those first few minutes.

The editing process

  • It’s important to have a team. Doing a narrative-based podcast by yourself is going to be a really big challenge. It’s not impossible but Corey and Jessica each brought very different skill-sets to the table, which allowed them to have a really good show. She highly recommends that if you want to do a narrative-based podcast to really make sure you have the right partners to help you do it really well. Jessica has a nice voice on the microphone, can interview well and knows how to get guests. So she was the main booker for the show and obviously contributed along with Corey to the ideas. She thinks more like a marketer and an entrepreneur than Corey does. He is the artist, he is the editor, he is the producer and the one that listens to all the interviews and takes the pieces and puts them together.
  • Having a partner and knowing what your skillsets are helps, but also get as much content as you can. They brainstormed what the story would be but what they realised is they ended up talking to the guests about a lot more than what they booked them to talk about. So they ended up being able to use their interviews in a lot more of the episodes than first thought. You don’t want to pre-edit, you want to just talk to the guests and try to get as much great information. A lot will get left on the cutting room floor, but you want to get as much great audio as possible so you have plenty to work with.

Strategic Elements of the Stories and Transitions

  • In the narrative-based podcast, you want to have a variety of feels to the show. For Podcast Producers they had three different kinds of audio: interviews, solo segments and conversations between Cory and Jessica. And there was also music. A person’s voice when they do a solo show is different to when they interview, and again to when they have a conversation. It sounds so different. In a narrative based-podcast, one of the things you can do to hook listeners, is to have those different kinds of vocals.
  • The music is HUGE as well. They actually contracted a musician to write the music for the show. The high quality of the music is a big part of creating the high quality show. You can find musicians to compose a song for you. The production quality and the sound, high quality music, will really set you apart.

Sponsorship

  • Getting sponsorship comes back to that high quality content and production, and the launch. They didn’t do that much around marketing but Jessica thinks because all of their energy was into the production of the show, it marketed itself. She thinks the mistake a lot of podcasters make is they go into podcasting thinking about sponsors and have dollar signs in their eyes. But if you think about the story and the listeners, and focus on the quality of the show, then you can definitely attract sponsors.
  • In the iTunes show there is a part about podcasting and it has other shows in there like Podcast Answerman. She emailed iTunes and said that they should feature her show in that category. It took a couple of months but now their podcast is listed in the ‘How to Podcast’ section of iTunes because they had a very clear target market, a highly produced show and they went for it, they made it happen.

Repurposing the interview content that didn’t make it

  • Podcast Producers is a show for podcasters, so the audience will respect and value that unedited aspect. Also showing the unedited interviews is a lesson in and of itself. Also Jessica and Corey wanted a way to create buzz. She was pregnant and he is very busy, so they knew they weren’t going to be able to come back and produce another season for a while, and it was a way to fill that space.
  • They chose to not build an email list together. So on the PodcastProducers.com you can find Jessica’s bio and a link to her website, and a link to Corey’s bio and his website. They wanted a way to keep people engaged in between seasons so they wanted to keep having episodes come out so people stayed in touch.
  • This was about getting content out, it isn’t a list builder, it isn’t a way to make money, it was about making Jessica and Corey authority figures. They were both behind the scenes people in podcasting, working really hard in their businesses but not internet celebrities. They wanted to show that they knew a lot about podcasting. Jessica did not want this to be a business podcast where it just sounds like everyone’s pitching what they do. She says maybe if they had talked more about their businesses they would have seen more people visit their websites. But the original goal was to produce a high quality show and create amazing value for podcasters. When you do that, you will attract people. Quality leads will seek you out.

Resources

  • Jessica recommends people use Podfly Productions, Interview Connections or Josh Rivers’ services.
  • She also highly recommends honing your communication skills on the mic. You just have to do a lot of podcasting and do a lot of interviews and listen to yourself after the fact to hear how you sound and to improve.
  • Listen to people like Terry Gross from Fresh Air and Mark Maron host of WTF, or other high quality podcasts. Listen to them as a way to learn how to be a better host and a better interviewer.
  • Also check out Jessica’s WebTV show Interview Connections.TV which is a weekly show with tips for podcasters because that will be helpful too.