Have you ever had the desire to change your podcast name? Many podcasters have. Some simply wanted to enhance their brand, while others were coming to the realization that it’s time to stop talking about one thing and talk about something else entirely.
Introducing Meghan Kitchen, Host of the Balancing Stories Podcast
Meghan Kitchen is the host of Balancing Stories, formerly Balancing Cultures, a podcast where she tells stories of people from a variety of backgrounds. She’s an American, living in Germany for 14 years, married to a Finn, and raising multicultural kids. She’s an international teacher, podcast host and creator, coffee drinker, and more.
In our conversation, Meghan and I talked about:
How she got into podcasting
Why she decided to change the name of her podcast – including pros, cons, and her own personal experience from making this change
Tips to help make sure your podcast name change is a successful one!
How and Why Meghan Started the Balancing Stories Podcast
Anne: So, Megan, can you tell me more about your podcast? What do you do exactly at Balancing Stories?
Megan: Balancing Stories, is an interview podcast with very few solo episodes sprinkled here and there, where I’m exploring the balancing in ourselves and in our lives. It started as Balancing Cultures because I’m an American, married to a Finn raising kids in Germany, I lived all around the US growing up. My parents also lived abroad. My father was multilingual.
And so, I’ve always had this experience of balancing different aspects of my life, internally and externally. II wanted to have more conversations around that, and II wanted to include other people’s voices and stories, because I find it’s sp valuable to have those conversations with others to understand the world better, but also to understand myself better through their stories. That’s what I have been doing for the past 2 years now, and II hope to continue doing it because I just personally gained so much from it and my listeners have thanked me for the stories that I share.
Anne: When you started a podcast, how was that? Can you take us through that first step that you took like you had this idea of a podcast and then what did you do?
Meghan: I actually am on Eltern’s side on maternity leave. And I was talking to a friend that I needed something that would be a creative outlet, but also in a way professional development, because I’m always about growth and developing myself professionally, personally, emotionally, mentally, all the things.
At first, I wanted to write. Writing went to the typical avenue of maybe I should start a blog, maybe I should try and write a book, these types of things. And my friend said you’re a speaker. You’re someone who should take what you write, your ideas of development, and you should present them in a different way. She’s the one who actually pushed me along and tried to encourage me to do a podcast.
Now, I pushed back on that a bit because I am not a tech person. I am one of those people that’s not just not a tech person. I get annoyed by technology. I just can’t sometimes. And so I knew that if I was going to go down this road of developing, producing, and hosting a podcast, I would have to face some of those personal challenges and I’m so happy I did! Because not only have I gained all the things I hope to gain from having a podcast, I’ve also gained this other side of more confidence around technology and just taking a chance on developing new skills like editing, brand development, website design, all of these things that were never in my wheelhouse, and I just had to teach myself. YouTube is a wonderful tool, by the way, and I’m nervous. But in the end, I’m so excited. I took that chance to go in the direction of podcasts because it’s been the best decision, and I absolutely love it.
Anne: That’s good to hear. Cool. You mentioned that you were in this for growth and that you even had to overcome this annoyance or maybe a little bit of fear of tech can be daunting, right? You don’t know what you don’t know. So I can imagine that if you don’t have a podcast, you’ve never worked in the podcasting space, of course. And it’s like, where to start? Maybe also. So I think it’s really good to hear that you overcame that and that you taught yourself to do everything. You developed the brand marketing and all that. That’s so cool from not knowing anything about it. Now, two years later, you do all the things successfully. So I think that’s really cool to hear.
Meghan: And I think it’s not just that I learned these particular skills of let’s say, website design, or branding, or podcast editing. It’s the fact that I grew personally into someone who knows that I can learn new skills. I can try new things. So even if the podcast ends someday and I never use podcast editing ever again, I know that I am capable of learning a new skill related to technology. A bit of that fear has faded away and has opened me to new opportunities in general, which has been great.
From Balancing Cultures to Balancing Stories
Anne: So from starting the podcast and now, two years later, you made this really big change in what you do with the podcast. But before that, what were some of the things you learned along the way or maybe some improvements that you made, like the little changes?
Meghan: So along the way, I made little changes to things like my social media templates. If you don’t have templates yet, do that, because it’s wonderful. And second, I changed things like the template, the tagline, you know, I reworded the tagline, but they were very small changes for the first year and a half because I was under this title of Balancing Cultures. And so my goal was to find people from a variety of backgrounds with a variety of stories. But I always came back to everything has to be under this umbrella of culture, however, we define that. And I started pushing the limits of how I do find that and the lane that I was going down because I would be approached by people who wanted to be guests, or I would find people that I thought, “Oh, I want to hear their story. I want to know more about them or this topic”. But then I would either awkwardly shove it under this umbrella, by asking directed questions to justify their presence on my podcast, or I wouldn’t have them on. I would just miss that opportunity for that conversation.
That’s when I started taking inventory of what I was doing and decided to do a name change. And as you said, in the beginning, I decided to a niche myself. I went against the advice of every podcast, blog person who say niche down and I said, “No, this doesn’t feel good.” I listened to my mind, my body, my spirit, my soul, and I said, there’s a discomfort in what I’m doing. So I need to change what I’m doing and which aspect of this needs to change so that I can bring the joy back to my podcast. And for me, it was the name change. That’s what I needed to do.
Anne: Yes, I remember that. We had a conversation about this when you were thinking about it, but you didn’t really feel like that was something you could do. I said that you’re the boss. You can do whatever you want. And I think sometimes we need to hear that right. Like it’s my podcast so if I want to have different conversations with different people, then that’s what we’re gonna do.
I think it’s good to be conscious when making this decision, not just unconsciously just getting everyone on the podcast who seems interesting, or just filling up the episodes because you need guests, I think it’s always good to think about your audience too. Like, does this fit in what I do, but also if it doesn’t fit on, it feels really restricted.
Then, I love that you just thought, we got to change this. It doesn’t fit anymore. It’s not what I’m interested in anymore. Maybe you just want to go bigger, broader, and just doing that, just making that decision, I think is really inspiring. How was it practically speaking? How exactly did you make this name change? Because that’s also a question that I get a lot. If I want to change the name of my podcast or if I want to change what I do exactly, how do I do that?
Everything You Need to Know About Changing Your Podcast Name
Meghan: Get your to-do list ready because you will be shocked by how many places you’ve put that original name. Especially if like me, you had an email address linked to that name, that was then your username for everything. I mean, from Instagram and Facebook to the recording site that I use, and Calendly. All the tools I use had my user name as this other name. So that’s just one thing that I actually didn’t think about, that behind the scenes thing they will have to take note of is – how many places am I registered with this name?
The biggest thing for me, and it’s something that is still in process, maybe by the time this episode is released, it will be done. Hopefully, that’ll be the challenge I set for myself is the website switch. After a year or so of having the podcast maybe a bit less, I made the decision to have a podcast website specific to the podcast and do a page for each episode. It’s like a blog post. It helps with SEO, SEM, and all these things that draw people in. It gives us a landing place for all these links. And it’s just wonderful. I 100% recommend having a website for your podcast.
But if you’re doing a name change, it means if you’ve got 80+ episodes, you have to edit every single page. Because you’ve mentioned things along the way that have your name, you’ve got links., The way you’ve linked things within your website, you may end up with dead links when you do a name change. If you’re switching domains. I think that has been if I can say what is not joyful about this process. That has been the least joyful part of the name change.
What has been easy, is if you’re on your hosting platform, if you change your name there, you change your tagline and your description. Because it’s connected to your RSS feed, it just gets distributed for you. It is smart to go and click on all the different platforms to make sure it has switched over. But that is something that’s easy – the joy part.
Branding and Design
Now that I’ve mentioned all the kinds of boring non-joyful parts, the joyful part is the redesign, really considering your colors. If you want to change the design of your logo, all your templates that I was talking about your tagline, that’s the joy part. For me, it was saying, “Oh, this is this is a fresh start.” Just like getting a new wardrobe. This is like finding my personal style. And so I went through even my own podcast feed, my app that I use, and I looked at all the podcasts that just draw me in by their logo, and really considered what I wanted it to look like, what podcast I wanted to stand with. If I’m sitting in someone’s podcast app, I wanted my logo to sit well with the logos that I admire. And so that was the joyful part for me, the creative side.
Anne: Yes. And also all this freedom that you can go where you want to go with your podcast. You can change whatever you want. But also, I think it’s really good to know that there are some boring aspects about changing a name. So maybe don’t do it too often. It is all possible. I think that is one message that I want to see with this episode. It is possible. You can change everything about your podcast because all that lives on the internet. So that means that you could all change it all. But, it’s also some work that goes into it. So maybe don’t do it every few months, and definitely consider the work that goes into it.
Making It Easy for Your Listeners to Find Your Rebranded Podcast
Meghan: And with that, I think especially talking about being consistent, which is very important for your listeners and your audience. Releasing consistently with a switch, I needed to make it as easy as possible for the people who follow my podcast. Because if I were to change my name, change my colors change my logo completely, and they check it on Thursday for a new episode, and there’s this random logo sitting in their podcast feed with a brand new name, they might not click on it. They might not know that it’s me.
And so, I needed to take baby steps. This is how I approached it, at least, to help them through that transition to know it’s still me., I’m still here. We’re going through a little change, we’re going to do this together.
And so two weeks before the switch, I changed all of my thumbnails to be the new logo but kept the name. And they got used to the new thumbnail picture. I personally kept my color scheme but added some hues to it and rounded it out a bit, but kept a lot of similarities. So that there was this kind of bridge between the names. For me personally, I went from Balancing Cultures to Balancing Stories, and so the balancing was still there. I kept the font. I changed the size of the title, but a lot of things linked one to the other to help my audience make the transition with me. And it’s been very positive, if anything my audience has grown.
Anne: Yes, That was actually my next question. How did that go? What are some of the comments you’ve got on a change? Did people say anything? Did new people find your podcast? Do you have any insight into that?
Meghan: Yes, so my audience has grown. Something I’m noticing is I have more consistent listening, not just that spike on release day. But I have trickles of listening all through the week now. Because I think there’s the potential that my title is more searchable.
The logo change in the title change has made it more approachable. I always felt that Balancing Cultures was targeted more at maybe immigrants, ex-pats, and people who had traveled, but a lot of my content was also very friendly to people who have never lived or moved abroad. And I didn’t want to limit my audience and the people who might click and give me a chance to those who only had this kind of multicultural experience. Because to me, culture wasn’t just about crossing borders, having multiple passports, or having a passport at all. And so I think Balancing Stories has become a much more user-friendly title for the general public. I think that’s been part of it as well.
Should I Niche Down or Go Broad?
Anne: That’s really good to hear. So if you would start over now or if you have any new podcasts would you say start niche and then unleash yourself or start broad?
Meghan: I think that really depends on your purpose for your podcast. Because I’m not doing this for business purposes. And so some people, maybe you already have your business and your purpose of the podcast is to target to a particular offer that you have to draw in clients for things, then niching might be your best bet and to really narrow down who you’re speaking to by making your title and your tagline and your branding in line with that type of client.
But for me, it was about personal and professional growth and for the purpose of storytelling, I also considered if I’m registering a business, you can register your business in your name or you can register a business in your podcast name or anything, honestly. And to me, when I looked at these two title options, Balancing Cultures or Balancing Stories, Balancing Stories felt more like a business name. To me, it felt more open for the types of things that I might offer in the future, the avenues I might go down business-wise, that felt better to me as a business than Balancing Cultures. So I think that’s something that people who want to start a podcast could consider is what is my purpose? And would niching down be more beneficial for me or unleashing?
Anne: Yes. I think there’s also something to say about starting quite niched and getting your first few people in your audience. Growing an audience within a niche is generally easier than starting a new audience. Starting from scratch when you have a quite broad topic that you discuss can be tough. because people might not feel like you’re talking to them directly. And within a niche, that’s easier.
But then also, once you feel restricted, I think it definitely makes sense to go broader. But then you already have an audience. I think maybe that is also something that we can take away as a potential strategy. But also one of the reasons why I wanted to ask you on a podcast and share your story here on the podcast page is because there’s no one way to do it.
There are different perspectives, like you said, everyone always says, niche down and you didn’t, and that was actually a really successful move for you. Because it feels like you can do what you actually want to do with the podcast. Now, your audience grew and you got good comments on the change. So it worked really well for you. So I also want to share that this is one way to do it then there’s also another way and that is to niche down.
Meghan: Yes. I agree with you. I think if I would have started as Balancing Stories, I may not have had the audience that I have today because a lot of the people who ended up listening to me and following me did fall into that ex-pat immigrant multicultural life experience audience profile. And now, they’ve continued following me into Balancing Stories and have shared it with friends and family because I bring value to them through my storytelling and through my interviewing skills. But would they have clicked or listened if I hadn’t niched down in the beginning? Very good question. I don’t know.
I think, especially for the genre that I’m in, which is society and culture, in terms of which Apple podcast category do I fall into? There are a lot of us in that category. It’s very competitive to say, “Oh, I’m storytelling or I’m an interview podcast.” I’m competing with some of the bigs in that category. And to say, “Okay, yes. I am an interview and storytelling podcast but I talk about culture. I am a mom trying to raise multilingual kids. I’m married to Finn. I mean, that’s nice. Not everyone marries. And to bring that to the table to start, yes, I think that was a value.
Is It Worth Changing Your Podcast Name?
Anne: I love hearing your story. And I have this podcast change. I think it’s so good to hear. Would you say it was worth it to go through all the trouble of changing the domain name and all the backend stuff?
Meghan: I do. Because I think the name change itself helped me open up and take away those pain points of podcasting that we’re developing over time. But in general, even without a name change, I think it was so beneficial for me to take inventory of my branding.
So even if I would have stayed with Balancing Cultures, my branding, my templates, my color, my logo, it all needed a refresh. Because I think our podcasts change over time, and our vision and even how we visually communicate the tone of what we’re doing changes. And so I would recommend to anyone listening that even if maybe a name change is too drastic for you, taking inventory of your branding is so valuable.
Anne: I love that. I think that is great advice. So maybe we should actually set once a year, maybe once every six months to just see, is this all still what I want to do? Does this still resonate with my audience? Can I make any of these tiny changes like you said of changing your social media templates or changing your logo or your tagline or tagline intro or outro? I think that’s where your user lies.
Meghan: Yes. There are so many little changes that can change the tone and the direction of your podcast without changing the name.
Get in Touch with Meghan
Anne: Thank you so much for sharing that, Meghan. Where can people find your podcast and tell us more? How can we listen? What can we listen to?
Meghan: So the podcast is now Balancing Stories. You can find me on all the different platforms. I believe I’m on anything possible so look me up on your favorite podcast app. I’m also on Instagram @balancingstories. I’m on Facebook @balancingstories. And I’m on Twitter at @balancingstory. Stories were too many letters but that’s okay. Because each person who comes on to my podcast is telling their balancing story. So it works out that way as well. Yes, come find me. Come listen. And if you want to be on a podcast, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anne: Good. Thank you so much, Meghan.
Meghan: Thank you.