MF 416 : Podcasting in 2022-23: building blocks, promos, and celebrating holidays and milestones
Updated: Mar 8
Today, I add a postscript to the podcasting in 2022 miniseries with a look at two advanced topics: 1) creating promos for your show for products and services, plus some candid thoughts when it comes to paid sponsorships, and 2) celebrating milestones, anniversaries, and holidays on your show. More at www.bemovingforward.com.
Moving Forward is also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, Stitcher Radio,iHeart, CastBox, Overcast, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, Anchor, and Audible.
Building blocks for your podcast
Addendum to the podcasting miniseries
Last fall, I revisited podcasting with an updated miniseries on podcasting, including having an exit, an arc, a goal and result in planning a show. In addition, I covered how much easier it is to launch a podcast today with hosting services like Anchor.
Today, I want to add a postscript with a look at two advanced topics that may come into play once you're underway in your podcasting journey: 1) incorporating promos, and 2) celebrating milestones, anniversaries, and holidays.
As covered last fall, a podcast can be a great outlet for your professional or personal life. It can supplement a business or personal brand -or- serve as a vehicle for you to teach or learn a subject. You can even use podcasting as a fictional medium to entertain.
Beyond the content itself, and as you start to build momentum, you can let your listeners know about other projects or work you do, especially as it relates to your show. For example, many listeners of Moving Forward follow the Poshmark series: episodes geared towards teaching selling on the platform. As I recently wrote a book and created a companion seller journal on the subject, I use promo spots to advertise these on the podcast.
During the holidays from November through December, I run a spot for my coloring book, which has become a popular "white elephant gift." Both of these are examples of "building blocks" that I incorporate into the episodes as appropriate.
One of the benefits of Anchor as a podcasting platform is that I can use segments or "blocks" to create my episodes. On my prior service, I had to upload episodes as one file. That meant if I wanted to add promos, I had to edit these into the original file. Consequently, if I wanted to swap or remove them, I would have to go back to the original file, edit it and reupload / replace it on the host service.
With Anchor, I can create separate audio files for promos or spots, which are stored within a "Library" folder. I can then embed them into any episode, and easily remove or swap them as needed. Once the episode blocks are saved, it updates on all syndicated platforms accordingly.
Think of your podcast episodes as "building blocks."
If you use a "building blocks" approach, it makes it that much easier to insert, remove, or update segments like announcements and promos. Whereas before, I used one file per episode, I now split episodes into two parts using a ".1" or ".2" suffix. Towards the end of ".1," I sometimes add a "bumper" before the segment ends to transition into the mid-show break (often called a "midroll ad"); to the effect of "I'm going to take a quick break and we'll be right back ..." Other times, I'll have a natural middle point that works as a logical mid-show break without calling it out.
If you listen to my show regularly, you'll know when a promo is running since I trend more towards the "old school" way of doing them: short spots with music, basic info, and a call to action. Other podcasts take a more subtle approach, opting for organic promos or ad spots that blend seamlessly with the rest of episode. This approach can be ideal if you're more casual in tone or if your host provider doesn't allow segments but requires one sound file per episode.
My thoughts on paid sponsorships
As I've been podcasting for many years now, I sometimes get asked about paid sponsorships from external companies or brands. All of my promos (thus far) are internal: books or projects that I've worked on or created. However, on many shows, you'll often hear promos or advertisements for products or services that are paid sponsors of a specific podcast or episode. As with internal promos, they may be classic commercial-style spots or subtle with the host mentioning "today's sponsor" along with a blurb about the product and service. This is especially prevalent on YouTube with popular creators often featuring one or more sponsors for each video they release. Similarly, popular podcasters may have third-party paid sponsors for their shows.
To date, I have not had a paid sponsor. If you're interested in learning more about this or monetizing your podcast, there is a ton of information out there, including from seasoned podcasters that have achieved this. For now, I'll just give you the broad strokes.
The numbers: For the most part, getting a paid sponsorship is about having a large audience (unique streams and downloads) and / or having a show that is very popular. It comes down to a fundamental principle: companies pay for ads to get as much exposure as possible for their product or service. This is as true for podcast spots as it is for running an ad on TV, radio, or print. Thus, it makes sense that companies or brands would only want to connect with content creators that have large audiences or subscribers.
The gateway: Assuming you have the numbers, you may get direct pitches from brands or their representatives with opportunities to collaborate for compensation; be it money, free products or services. Often, sponsorships have a meter through which listeners to a particular show are directed to use a designated promo code or URL to try a product or service. From there, the brand can measure out "affiliate revenue" to the host or show based on the number of sign-ups or newly acquired paid customers. Other times, sponsorship deals may simply be an advertisement that's paid to the program on a per episode or band (cluster of listeners) basis. There are many ways to structure a sponsorship and I encourage you to research further if you're interested. Regardless, know that most sponsorships come down to numbers.
Grassroots: You can also get creative by proactively reaching out to local businesses. If you're just launching a podcast, especially one tied to a particular industry or geographic area, this might be a better tactic for you: partnering with a local business to do a deal or exchange. For example, a new show markets a restaurant and in exchange, it will promote your show to patrons or let you record an episode there. Remember, smaller businesses often have limited budgets so you may have to be open and creative in your sponsorship collab. It all depends on the business, your show, and the specific circumstances and constraints.
Before you start pounding the pavement or obsessing over your stats, listen to some shows that have sponsors, do some research, and find out what monetizing your show entails. Consider if this is consistent with your message, brand, and goals. Moreover, ask yourself whether this is something that's really important to you as you weigh the pros and cons. Sponsorships mean you're carving space on your show to promote a product, brand or service to your listeners. It's in part a business transaction with obligations and expectations on both ends. You may have to consult with a business professional such as an attorney to help you navigate this.
Finally, don't make this your primary goal in launching a show. Most podcasters will not get a sponsorship offer or deal, at least not right away. Building an audience and gaining traction takes time and consistency. Thus, I recommend you start with the assumption that you will not get any sponsors or big numbers immediately. If you still have enough desire, excitement and encouragement to launch -and- sustain a show, then go for it. If your show does gangbusters and those opportunities come your way, consider it icing on the cake.
Celebrating milestones and holidays
One of the big tentpole principles I cover on the podcasting miniseries is having an arc for your show, starting with your exit. Once you map out your podcast, you may discover opportunities to celebrate a milestone or anniversary (big or small), along with holidays that coincide with your content release schedule. Whether you acknowledge and celebrate these is entirely up to you. However, if you plan to podcast for a while, consider these an opportunity to celebrate your wins and try some creative things with your show that you may not normally get to do.
When it comes to milestones, define them how you will. If you have a ten episode podcast, episode 5 may be a noteworthy hilltop. If you have a 100 episode show, episode 50 may significant. For milestones, you can celebrate them any number of ways or not at all. Again, the decision is yours. Below are some ideas below based on past milestones I've celebrated on Moving Forward:
Reunion: If your show is interview focused, a milestone can be a great way to catch up with past guests and see what they've been up to since their last appearance. I've done this on episodes 100 and 400. I recommend plan it ahead of time and invite / book those guests early since this will require a lot more editing on your part. This is also where using segments or blocks (see above) can come in handy.
Note: I should mention the segment or "building blocks" ability on Anchor currently works with audio files only. At the moment, video episodes can only be one file.
Clip show: This is like a "greatest hits" album. Take clips of favorite or popular episodes and put them together as part of a retrospective. While I didn't do this for a milestone episode, I used this device to tie up last season's writing miniseries. I concluded that series with a two-parter containing my thoughts, takeaways and best practices from each guest along with segments from their respective interviews (see writing series episodes 385 and 386).
Small and thoughtful: You don't have to do anything big or flashy for a milestone. A thoughtful reflection can be just as meaningful. For episode 300, I took a break from the audiobook miniseries that I was in the middle of to share a personal story. To date, that short episode remains one of the more popular ones. Alternately or additionally, you can use anniversaries and milestones to announce upcoming changes or important matters related to your show. As an example, on Moving Forward's 400th episode, I announced that I will be ending the podcast at episode 500.
Planning and prep
Plan ahead and work out the logistics for any milestone or anniversary episodes as they generally require more time and creativity. For reunion episodes, reach out to guests early and try to lock down and record interviews in advance since you'll be doing a lot more editing and post-production. This is also a good time to revisit your podcast roadmap and see where you are in terms of your arc and exit. If your show has or will change, this may be a good time to talk about it with your listeners.
If you podcast long enough, you will eventually run into holidays. As Moving Forward airs every Thursday, I make adjustments during Thanksgiving week. In some past seasons, I've skipped that week, announcing it on the prior episode that I'm taking that week off (also announcing when I'll return) and for other seasons, I've recorded episodes that air on an adjusted schedule before or after the holiday. You may do something similar or air an episode that day per your normal schedule. Over the past several years, I've noticed that while lower, people do tune into podcasts during the holidays.
In terms of the content itself, it's entirely up to you whether you acknowledge a holiday and if so, how. Some podcasts will air a standard episode, other podcasters may make a subtle or small announcement at the beginning or end of an episode. And still others will create holiday specific episodes. I've done a combination of all of the above.
For some holidays, I've simply mentioned or acknowledged it at the end of an episode; typically for holidays like the Fourth of July or Halloween. For major holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, I've created episodes that are more lighthearted and fun. As I've talked about on the podcasting miniseries, if I were launching Moving Forward today, I'd do a tighter show focused on one area or topic. That said, I would continue to have fun with the holiday episodes and be a little looser in format and topic. As mentioned, the choice is yours. If you would like to see examples of past holiday episodes, take a look at the holiday collection page.
Celebrating milestones and holidays are both a style choice and personal preference for you as a podcaster and content creator. These occasions can be a chance for you to do some reflecting or celebrating or simply bring some lighthearted joy to your listeners.
More resources on podcasting
The Poshmark Guide for Individuals and Small Businesses is now available as an audiobook
Try out Audible and get The Poshmark Guide for Individuals and Small Businesses audiobook for free (Audible affiliate link).
The Poshmark Guide for Individuals and Small Businesses is also available to purchase from Apple audiobooks.
My books on Poshmark
The Poshmark Guide for Individuals and Small Businesses (Paperback, Kindle, Audible)
The perfect office or work-from-home gift
Check out the Moving Forward mini-series collection
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Morning Brew (affiliate link): a fantastic free newsletter that's a quick read and a great way to get your morning briefing on what's happening in the market, the economy, and the larger world.
What I’m reading / read
The Violin Conspiracy by Brendon Slocumb (*****)
Audiobook narrated by John
Get the Audiobook of I Am a Professional Metalhead, by Angelo Spenillo and narrated by John for free with a trial to Audible.
Get a free trial to Audible and I Am a Professional Metalhead (Audible affiliate).
Support the Podcast
The Poshmark Guide for Individuals and Small Businesses -and- The Poshmark Journal for Individuals and Small Businesses are available on Amazon.
The Corporate Cliches Adult Coloring Book: makes the perfect stocking stuffer or white elephant gift.
Try out Audible (affiliate link).
Try out Amazon Prime (affiliate link).
Follow John on IG
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