Brandi Sea Heft-Kniffin has so many incredible tips for podcast strategy. Before starting this podcast, we had several conversations where she asked me some really tough questions about what I wanted from my business and this podcast. These conversations helped shape my strategy and made the rebranding and podcast launch a total breeze.
I’m so excited that she’s my first guest and is here to share her best strategy tips. No need to wait any longer, let’s get started!
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About Brandi Sea Heft-Kniffin
Brandi is an award-winning designer, educator, and creative leader. She has been awarded for her poster design work including Judge’s Choice at the 2016 Adobe Creative Jam. In 2017, she was also awarded a prestigious “Albuquerque 30″ award from the American Advertising Federation, which celebrates the 30 greatest ideas of the year. Brandi has also worked as adjunct professor at her alma mater, Southwest University of Visual Arts from teaching advanced Design Concepts. She began her design career in 2001 as a student and graduated valedictorian with her Bachelor’s in Graphic Design. Brandi is actively involved with her local design community and is currently serving as President for AIGA’s New Mexico Chapter.
Why Brandi started podcasting
In 2014, Brandi began to get really frustrated with the world of design. A lot of designers she saw were not working from a place of strategy. She saw designers copying other people’s work, twisting it a bit, and calling it their own. After frustration rose to a boiling point, she decided she wanted to make a difference. She started a blog in hopes of educating people on design, color theory, and creating a target market. All the things that are really crucial to having a good design strategy.
After having her blog for awhile, people began asking her if she ever considered making a YouTube channel. From there, she began Design Tip Tuesday and eventually went on to start the Design Speaks podcast. With her podcast, she helps creatives tap into their own inspiration and overcome creative blocks.
Finding your co-host soulmate
A lot of podcasts have co-hosts and even more podcasters think about having a co-host, but don’t know how to go about finding the right fit. A good co-host needs to match your podcast’s message, target audience, and conversation style. When Brandi needed to find a co-host, she asked herself two questions: what knowledge-base did she want the co-host to have about the design field and how well could the two of them carry on a conversation. From there, she identified a short list of 3-4 prospects to do a test episode.
If you are looking for a co-host, Brandi encourages you to look into your network. Instagram followers, colleagues, and podcast subscribers are all good places to search. You may even consider posting the qualities you are looking for in a social media post and see what responses you get from your followers.
The benefit of having seasons
For more than two years, Brandi’s podcast released a new episode every week. While she enjoyed being there every week and sometimes wishes she still could be, her schedule simply does not allow that anymore. Plus, it puts a heavy stress on her family.
When her first co-host needed to leave the show, she decided to switch things up. Now she has seasons that are scheduled around her kids’ school schedule. With seasons, she’s able to batch record during school breaks and then has the freedom and mental break from the weekly creating, recording, and promoting grind.
Is consistency the key to success?
Brandi and I are in agreement that consistency doesn’t necessarily mean you have to release an episode every single week. You can think about podcasts like a TV show. When a show takes a break, you don’t give up on it. You know exactly how long it will be gone for and then eagerly await it’s return.
Do you want to hear my thoughts on this? Listen to episode 4 of The Podcast Babes Podcast: Is Consistency The Key To A Successful Podcast?
Instead of consistency, the key is clarity and communication. As long as you communicate your schedule with your audience, they will stay loyal. The problem comes when you sporadically release a few episodes and then disappear without warning. Just like you knew Friends came on every Thursday at 8pm for 9 months a year, you’ll instinctively know when your favorite podcasts release new episodes.
Podcast strategy tips
The first thing you need to do before developing your podcast strategy is identify your target demographic. Knowing who you will be talking to will determine your show’s structure because you don’t talk to your mom the same way you talk to your bestie or your clients. You can tell the same story 10 different ways if you’re talking to 10 different people. So you need to know who you’re telling that story to.
Another key component to Brandi’s strategy is her cover art. As a designer, this was huge for her as it conveys her expertise in the field. She needed to figure out what would be appealing, would stand out, and make it clear she knows a thing or two about design.
Also important to Brandi’s strategy is content planning. When she shifted into having seasons, she decided each season would have a theme and each episode within the season would build on the previous episodes. For her first season, it was primarily concept driven and season two was more action items that listeners could immediately implement.
A final tip Brandi has for podcast strategy is to create separate social media pages for your podcast. This doesn’t necessarily work for all business-based podcasts, but for her, having a separate page for her podcast added to her credibility and allowed her to post a lot more content related specifically to the podcast.
Brandi’s #1 tip when starting a podcast
Brandi’s favorite question in the whole wide world when starting a new venture is to ask ‘why’? Why do you think this idea is valuable? Why do you want to put your precious energy and time into it? If you have good answers to the ‘why’ question for starting a podcast, then you need to start asking yourself if you actually like having conversations. If you don’t, then a podcast is probably not the right avenue for you. Maybe a blog would be better.
Then keep asking yourself questions. What do you plan on talking about? Are you okay with having these conversations heard by other people? Can you have a conversation without talking over someone? If not, it’s probably best to avoid interviews and only do solo episodes. Knowing your why is the most important thing when starting a podcast, but it’s only the beginning of a lot more questions.
Taking messy action
If you want to start a podcast, don’t wait until you feel like it’s perfect. It will never be perfect. You’re going to have to jump in and mess some things up and figure them out as you go. The good thing about podcasting is it has a really low barrier to entry. You can start with really basic equipment (hello iPhone and earbuds!) and there’s even free editing software like Audacity. Sure, your sound won’t be as great, but you’ll be in the game.
As your show grows and hopefully starts monetizing, you can invest in better equipment and hiring people to help with the production and management if needed. Before that point, though, just get started and the rest will come.