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Creating a ‘Real Life’ Podcast Community

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By M.K. Rainey

Podcasts are exploding right now. All over the country, it seems as if people are either tuning in or putting out content – or both. It’s a great and affordable way to promote your business, make connections, and get your voice out there.

Countless chat rooms and social media platforms dedicate themselves to helping people solve technical issues and get their podcasts going. But what about community? I mean real community. Groups of podcasters getting together to promote, uplift and grow their audiences together?

As the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief for a new publishing company called Dead Rabbits, I produce the Dead Rabbits Podcast, a literary-themed show that aims to bring artists, entrepreneurs, and creators to the table for interesting conversations, while having some fun in the process. I also produce and co-host Rosé All Day Anyways, a funny feminist podcast that mixes heavier conversations about the world with insights on The Bachelor and rosé.

Our press aims to build real, in-person communities that help support writers and artists across the country. We are deeply community-driven and, given that I produce two podcasts, I realized that it would be beneficial to partner with a community of podcasters.

Searching for Community

A few weeks ago, I was searching the internet for podcasting communities. Not just Facebook or reddit groups, but ones that got together to support one another, maybe even to meet in real life.

That’s when my search led me to podcastusa.org. Podcast USA is a website for all things podcasting: helping people find local podcasts, collaborating with others, listening to new content, and cross-promoting one another – basically, the community I had been hoping for. The goal of the group is to create podcaster coalitions by region to support and uplift one another in their endeavors.

However, when I went to the “Find My State” section, I discovered that there was no listing for New York, my now-beloved home state. Which shocked me. New York is a major hub for podcasts. So I shot an email to Podcast USA, asking what plans were in the works for New York. Almost immediately I got a response from Stephen Meader, the brains behind the operation.

Stephen is an enigmatic, driven person who brought this community to life not long ago in an effort to connect with other podcasters. He’s responsive, creative, and determined – all the things you need to be a great community organizer. Community work is hard and takes a lot of wrangling. It requires the ability to galvanize folks to do. In our conversation, I learned that he’s set up podcast communities in eight states, pulling in energetic leaders to get more and more folks to join. Each region has their own leader who connects podcasters to the group, promotes the region’s social media handles, encourages cross-collaboration between podcast hosts, and even holds in-person meetups.

Michele Guild, who runs Podcast IA, has done a particularly great job. They have 41 podcasts in their group and have held a number of in-person meetups to help their members connect with one another.

I was sold. This is exactly the community I’d been hoping for. There was just one problem: no one had signed up to lead the New York community. Until now.

Getting Started

In January 2019, Stephen and I kicked off Podcast NY with nine podcasts on board, launching the website and social media handles all at once. Every day we add more and more into the mix.

Though nervous about the explosion of podcasts to come, I’m excited too. At some point, it may get too big for Stephen and I to handle alone, but other podcast have offered to help, so I’ll have the community’s support when I need it.

Throughout my career, I’ve learned how truly valuable a strong community can be. I am so grateful to Stephen and all of the podcasters in our community who understand the value of working together. That being said, we’re still growing. So if you’re out there looking for a community to join, we want you. Reach out to Podcast USA or search for your state’s network on the database and get in contact with your state’s network leaders.

Don’t see your state listed in the active networks list? You could start that chapter! Reach out to Stephen Meader through Podcast USA about starting a network in your state.

Or, you could simply start your own community! Community work is hard, but so worth it. Communities build movements and make so much more creativity possible. Start small by reaching out to other podcasts you know and talk about collaborating in some way. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

Tips for Creating a Podcast Community

  1. Don’t know another podcast? Listen Notes is a great resource to help you find other podcasts in your area. Find another podcast that focuses on similar things and contact them.
  2. Offer to cross-promote on your podcast, and vice versa. Cross-promotion is a great way to gain followers and partners. If you have an overlapping audience with another show, you might look at creating a promo trailer and doing a trailer swap.
  3. Crossover episodes are a great start. We recently did one on Rosé All Day Anyways with Big Things with Zach Miko, talking all things body image and body positivity, which goes great with both podcasts’ focus. Find some commonalities and work together to make an episode.
  4. Once you’ve contacted a few podcasts doing similar things in your area, throw a happy hour event at a local bar or some kind of get together so everyone can meet. Just getting together in person will help the ideas and creativity between people start flowing.

Help Start the Conversation

However, meeting in real life can be daunting for some people. Having a plan, agenda, or prompts will help facilitate the conversation and make it worthwhile for those coming. For instance, have a jar with a series of questions in it or a card that people have to fill out with questions on it that they can then share with others who attend. Some good questions to ask are:

  • What kind of equipment do you use to record?
  • What has been your favorite episode so far and why?
  • If you recorded your best podcast tomorrow, what would it be on? Who would be on it?
  • How do you promote your podcast? What have been your most successful means of promotion?

These are just a few questions to help facilitate conversations, but you could go any way you want. It doesn’t have to be formal or scary. Just getting people in the same room will help motivate them to create and grow together.

Community Tips Going Forward

  1. After any event, encourage attendees to swap contact information and keep in touch. You could even start a Facebook page, subreddit, or email chain to keep up to date with one another.
  2. Be active and supportive on social media! Don’t just endlessly tweet your podcast episodes over and over again. Repost and share podcasts by those you collaborate with and be a supportive partner. Sharing the work of others won’t distract from your own podcast, in fact it will elevate it and encourage others to share your work.
  3. And grow your community! Encourage those you meet to invite more people they know. The more people involved, the bigger your podcast will grow.

Anyway you choose, community building is an excellent way to grow your podcast and create strong content that your listeners will appreciate.

M.K. Rainey is a writer, teacher, and editor from Little Rock, Arkansas. She co-hosts the Dead Rabbits Reading Series, and is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Dead Rabbits, a literary press that strives to collaborate with writers to create work that matters. She produces the Dead Rabbits Podcast, and co-hosts and produces the podcast Rosé All Day Anyways. Contact her at mkraineywriter.com or at podcastsny.com to join the community.

Plan Your Next Podcasting Meetup

If you’re interested in having more real life interactions, then we have a handy guide to the year’s podcasting events.

You never know, there might be something happening near you. And if not, you can always start your own!

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