Understand the power of content and what you want your podcast content to do for your audience. Whether you are starting the next big true-crime podcast, or starting a podcast to help inform people about your small business, make sure you know the type of content you want to make and what you want it to cause your listeners to do. Do you want them to be entertained? Buy something? Subscribe to your service? Be inspired to create something of their own? All of these are important aspects to consider if you want your podcast to be successful.
As part of my series of interviews about “5 things you need to know to create a very successful podcast”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Julie Sheffield.
Julie Sheffield is the podcast producer for the Destination Marketing Podcast Network, powered by Relic. Julie’s favorite part about being a podcast producer is helping destinations tell their story in a unique way on a unique platform. She oversees podcast guest coordination, episode editing, post-production, episode analytics and show distribution for over ten podcasts.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit of your “personal backstory? What is your background and what eventually brought you to this particular career path?
I am originally from a small town in Northern Utah called Heber City. It is nestled in a little valley surrounded by mountains and I loved growing up there. When I was 18, I moved to Orem, Utah to study Commercial Music at Utah Valley University. Needless to say, my college career didn’t exactly go to plan. Although I had a strong background in music and loved being creative with it, I quickly realized that the performance scene wasn’t for me. I decided to change my major and finish my associates degree in Humanities while I figured out where I wanted my life and career to go.
I loved my time in the humanities program. It taught me to think critically, write effectively and express my ideas. Near the end of the humanities program, I had a new roommate move into my apartment. We got talking and she told me she was in the digital cinema program at UVU. I told her a little bit about my background in music and she introduced me to the digital audio program. I did a little research and quickly decided that it was perfect for me. It not only covered elements of music production that I loved but also dug deeper in audio production for film and television, as well as audio restoration, radio production and podcasting.
I was introduced to podcasting when I was in my third semester of the audio program. I loved what I was doing in school and really wanted to get some audio experience in the real world. I began working on a podcast called “Midseason Moms” and loved it. It perfectly combined my love for communication and audio production. Shortly after they canceled their show, I applied for a job at Relic as a podcast intern. I was still relatively new to the podcast industry and I honestly attribute where I am to the Midseason Moms podcast. It gave me not only something relevant to add to my resume but also confidence in my professional skills in the industry.
Can you share a story about the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you started podcasting?
Watching Relic’s clients understand how impactful podcasting can be for them is way more rewarding than I ever thought it would be. I didn’t expect to become so passionate about podcasts but I’ve loved seeing all of the ways that our content has been able to impact people around the world.
Can you share a story about the biggest or funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaways you learned from that?
I can’t think of any big mistakes, but I definitely had my fair share of small hiccups. I remember there was one episode of the Destination Marketing Podcast that had a big chunk of audio missing and nobody told me until the day after it went live. All is fixed now, but it was definitely embarrassing, especially as I had just started.
How long have you been podcasting and how many shows have you aired?
I began working with Relic on their podcasts in March 2020. Since then, we have created a network to showcase our podcasts for the tourism and destination marketing industry called the Destination Marketing Podcast Network. I have produced 10 separate podcasts and aired over 200 episodes. We currently have more shows in the pipeline for the network so stay tuned!
What are the main takeaways, lessons or messages that you want your listeners to walk away with after listening to your show?
The answer to this question definitely changes depending on which podcast you are talking about. For our shows that are created by destinations, we really try to leave people with a sense of curiosity about the destination. Many of these episodes are interview-based and we get to talk to people who do all sorts of things in the destination. We’ve had guests talk about everything from kazoos to ostrich farms and it is so fun to learn about all of the hidden gems that visitors can see when they visit.
For the podcasts that are created by Relic and our partners, we want to create a show for every role at a Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) so that they can have the resources they need to be successful. We want our listeners to feel like they aren’t alone in the struggles they are facing in their job. This has proven to be especially useful as the world recovers from the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been a great platform to showcase our leadership in the industry and provide tools for those who need it.
In your opinion what makes your podcast binge-listenable? What do you think makes your podcast unique from the others in your category? What do you think is special about you as a host, your guests, or your content?
It is so important to have content that is useful as well as engaging. We want people to look at our shows as a resource as well as a form of entertainment. If one of these elements is missing, episodes won’t perform as well.
Doing something on a consistent basis is not easy. Podcasting every work-day, or even every week can be monotonous. What would you recommend to others about how to maintain discipline and consistency? What would you recommend to others about how to avoid burnout?
Burnout is definitely a real thing and I think the key to avoiding it is to keep your podcast fresh. If you are getting burned out by working on your podcast, chances are, your listeners are getting burned out from listening. I am always looking for new ways to make our podcasts better and I think that drive for constant improvement is what helps me with burnout.
What resources do you get your inspiration for materials from?
The majority of my inspiration comes from the people around me. I am still in school and am lucky to have amazing teachers and mentors who have taught me everything I know. The other side of my education has been being a part of Relic’s PR and content team. I didn’t know very much about the content process and the importance of having a content strategy before I started here and have learned so much. We lean on each other a lot for content at Relic. We are always brainstorming ideas together and trying to come up with new ideas for our shows.
Ok fantastic. Let’s now shift to the main questions of our discussion. Is there someone in the podcasting world who you think is a great model for how to run a really fantastic podcast?
Someone I have looked up to for a long time and have been following his journey since he was just getting started was Nusier “Nas” Yussin, a video blogger and podcaster who travels around the world telling stories about people and places and culture. Over the past year, he’s been a pioneer in the content industry creating an academy for anyone who wants to learn how to be successful content creators whether it be through videos, podcasts, social media, etc. Now, there is this huge network of people from all over the world telling stories that matter and I can only dream of someday making an impact like that.
What are the ingredients that make that podcast so successful? If you could break that down into a blueprint, what would that blueprint look like?
I think for Nas, it is more than just a podcast. Yes, his team is using the medium and generating listens but it goes so much deeper than that. It’s about content as a whole and understanding that you need more than just a good microphone and funny host to start a successful podcast. It is important to keep the bigger picture in mind of where you want your show to go and who you want to impact with it.
You are a very successful podcaster yourself. Can you share with our readers the five things you need to know to create an extremely successful podcast? (Please share a story or example for each, if you can.)
- Understand the power of content and what you want your podcast content to do for your audience. Whether you are starting the next big true-crime podcast, or starting a podcast to help inform people about your small business, make sure you know the type of content you want to make and what you want it to cause your listeners to do. Do you want them to be entertained? Buy something? Subscribe to your service? Be inspired to create something of their own? All of these are important aspects to consider if you want your podcast to be successful.
- Watch your analytics and look for how your content strategy is impacting your audience and listenership. If you publish an episode that does really well, look at your content and see why. If a topic really resonates with your audience, chances are that similar topics will also do well.
- Social media is everything. As you start to develop your audience, they are going to want to interact with you and others who listen to the podcast. Creating social pages for your podcast can be a great way to not only promote new episodes but also give your audience a platform to talk about and react to your content with other listeners.
- Invest your time. Podcasts don’t become successful overnight. Understand that it’s going to take time to develop your content strategy and grow your audience.
- If you feel overwhelmed or like you don’t know what you are doing, find someone who can help you! Whether it’s a freelancer or an agency such as Relic, there are so many resources available to help make your podcast great. There are also tons of awesome software out there specifically designed for podcasters to help make the recording, editing, and publishing process easier. Some of my favorites are Zencastr (for recording remote guests), NoNotes (for episode transcription and show notes), and Audioboom (for publishing and analytics).
Can you share some insight from your experience about the best ways to: 1) book great guests; 2) increase listeners; 3) produce it in a professional way; 4) encourage engagement; and 5) the best way to monetize it? (Please share a story or example for each, if you can.)
- The key to booking great guests is understanding what your audience wants to hear. If you have a podcast all about books and you bring on a guest that is really into cars, that episode probably won’t do so well. Align your guests with your audience and you will find success. When booking guests, it is also important to keep networking in mind. Think about who you want to work with and start there. We rarely have guests decline the opportunity to be a guest on any of our podcasts. Podcasting is a new and almost “elite” form of content so most of the guests we have on are very excited.
- Increasing listeners is a struggle that I see in a lot of our shows. We see growth right at the beginning as we establish our core audience but then it often plateaus as the show keeps going. We’ve found a couple of things to be successful when trying to combat this. First, shows that have social media platforms and use them to promote new episodes when they go live generally have more listeners than the ones who don’t. If you don’t engage with potential listeners offline, why do they care to take the time to listen to your show? Another thing that we’ve found to work well is social media advertising in the specific markets that you want to target. I’m not a digital marketing expert and these campaigns are handled by members of our team who are experts but pushing your content out to people who want to hear it is definitely one way to go.
- Having a podcast that is professionally produced can sound daunting to a lot of people. From all my schooling and training, I have learned that it is actually a lot easier than most people think. To start off, invest in a good microphone, download software for editing and watch some YouTube videos to learn how to use it. Make sure that you record in a room free of background noise. Once you have that process down, do some research on EQ and compression. These are audio tools that I use in every episode I edit to help control dynamic range as well as the frequency spectrum. A little bit of training in these tools can go a long way.
- Like I said earlier, social media is a great way to encourage engagement. Invite your listeners to follow along on social media and post content that calls for engagement. Some things that I’ve seen that have worked well are easily shareable videos such as Instagram Reels or TikToks, questions and answers with the podcast hosts or popular guests you’ve had on the show or even allowing listeners to have some input on the kind of topics that are covered in the show.
- As far as monetizing your podcast goes, it depends on what your goals are as a content creator. If you are hoping to be a part of the influencer sphere, reaching out to brands and pitching partnerships can be a great way to start. If you are starting your podcast to help grow a business, invite guests on the show that could be potential clients. Podcasting can be a great way to connect with people and network in any industry.
For someone looking to start their own podcast, which equipment would you recommend that they start with?
This is also a hard question because everyone has a different budget. Most people starting a podcast won’t spend thousands of dollars on expensive gear and software. I’d recommend to everyone to start small and then as your show grows, grow your gear as well.
Three pieces of basic equipment everyone needs to start a podcast are a good microphone (or two if you are wanting to record with live guests), an audio interface and a computer with editing software. That’s it! Simple right? Of course, you can definitely add things onto that core list to help your podcast sound better such as a pop filter, nice cables and a solid mic stand. I think a lot of people don’t realize how easy it is to get started.
As far as recording and editing go, there are so many options out there. I use Zencastr to record with guests online and Pro Tools to record with guests in person. For editing, I use Pro Tools exclusively.
Ok. We are almost done. 🙂 Because of your position and work, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Oh gosh. Hitting me with all the tough questions today! I’d love to inspire a movement of creativity among adults who feel like they are in a rut. I hear from so many people that they are stuck in a job that stifles their creativity. We live in a time where it is so easy to open your computer and create something. Audio, video, photography, graphic design, writing, computer programming, video game design, you name it. Helping people understand that the creative release they’ve been looking for isn’t as out of reach as they thought would be a dream come true for me.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can connect with me on LinkedIn @Julie Sheffield or if you have any further questions, feel free to email me directly at [email protected]. You can find out more about Relic’s podcast program and the Destination Marketing Podcast Network at www.thedmpn.com.
Thank you so much for sharing your time and your excellent insights! We wish you continued success.