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One of my favorite things about podcasting is pushing against the edges that define podcasting. Equally, I love helping creative podcasters come up with new ways to use podcasting’s infrastructure to deliver new experiences. That’s why I was intrigued when Bryan Barletta of Sounds Profitable had an idea to re-factor the “upfront” concept for podcasting… by podcasting!
In brief, upfronts (there’s one this week) are live events put on by podcast publishers to showcase their new podcasts to a variety of ad buyers, giving the buyers the chance to buy inventory before the show is released. Up front, you might say.
Bryan asked the obvious question: Why limit podcasting upfronts to time-dependent live events instead of leaning into the on-demand nature of podcasting? From that spark, Up Next - A Podcast Format Up Front was born. It just went live this morning, and it’s free for anyone to “attend” (where “attend” means adding the URL to your podcast listening device).
Pimping Podcasting Prowess With A Podcast
While thinking through how to make Bryan’s vision a reality, it struck me that other podcasters, particularly podcasters who offer podcast-related services, could leverage the concept to showcase the work that they do. Specifically, using a new podcast as a “reel”, of sorts, to highlight service offerings.
We put a lot of effort into building portfolios, media kits, websites, social shares, and myriad other ways to say “these are the things I do!”. Necessary effort, I should add. Because all of those are important.
But each of those highlighting efforts exists, at least in part, outside of podcasting. And when a listen-to-this example of your very fine work is given, it’s rarely in situ and is instead almost always provided outside of the full podcast experience.
This new (?) idea lets podcasting showcase your podcasting work.
How To Make Your Podcasting Showcase Podcast
Getting this to work well may cause you to think more about RSS feeds than you ever wanted to. But if you’ll bear with me, I’ll make it straightforward.
Let’s start with the goal: Making a brand new podcast that highlights your work.
To accomplish this, we’ll use a brand new but highly constructed RSS feed that uses two main concepts:
- Each other podcast you want to show is self-contained in its own season
- Each season consists of a single trailer and a single episode
For example, if you’re a podcast producer and you want to showcase 10 podcasts you’ve worked on, your new show will consist of 10 seasons. Each season will contain a representative episode of just one of the podcasts you want to highlight. And that season will also have a “trailer” episode where you explain and call out the very specific work you did on the episode they’re about to hear. The result: 20 episodes.
So yes, you’ll produce those trailer episodes, one by one, talking to the listening audience and telling them exactly what they’re about to hear in the “full” episode coming next. And, if warranted, what you want them to do after listening. If you’re a network, talk about audience size or demographics. If you’re repping ads, talk about sponsorship and ad opportunities.
The representative episode should be just that: An episode from the show you wish to highlight. If your podcast hosting company allows it, you can directly link to the live episode from the show. But if not, you can just upload a new copy of that single media file to your hosting provider. No, don’t upload all 27 episodes. One will do. You’re’re just highlighting.
You could, I suppose, cut down a full episode from the show and make a shorter episode of snippets. But I’d advise against it. First, it’s more work for you. And also it gets further away from the overall podcasting experience. You have plenty of other ways to highlight your work, as mentioned above. Let this be about the full podcast experience.
Also, you probably should create an additional overall trailer episode for the entire podcast, logging into Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and any other portal that lets you identify the “main” trailer. That can help clue in people who stumble across the show and don’t know what’s all about.
Check Your Work
While what I’ve outlined above is perfectly “legal” as far as RSS feeds go, podcast apps and directories play fast and loose with how they’ll display the contents of that new show in their app.
Apple Podcasts will respect the season numbers, episode numbers, and trailer designations. But just about every other app will not, blindly displaying episodes in the order in which they appear in your RSS feed.
Don’t get me started.
You’ll likely need to tweak publishing dates to get your episodes to display properly in your RSS feed Luckily, most podcast media hosting companies will display your published episodes in their editing interface the same order they show in the RSS feed. However, I strongly suggest side-loading the RSS feed to a podcast app that will allow it (which means almost everyone except Spotify) and checking your work before you submit the new show anywhere.
Keep It Pruned
Treat your new highlights podcast as you would any other aspect of your portfolio. Don’t let it languish, and don’t be afraid to remove content that’s no longer relevant or representative of your work. Networks should remove the shows that are no longer part of their network. Audio engineers should remove their early work that’s a little rough around the edges to keep the spotlight on their best work.
And add to it! Don’t worry about making regular updates—this isn’t that kind of podcast. Just add new seasons when you have something new to showcase.
From time to time, check how the show displays in various apps. No, not just the big ones. And if you can pull it off, be sure to check how it appears on apps that don’t work with your chosen mobile OS. (So find a way to check AP, Android users. Find a way to check Podcast Addict, iOS users.)
How much work you do in promoting this special show/feed is up to you. I’d recommend submitting the show to the various directories, as you never know who might discover it and be interested in what you have to offer. I don’t have strong feelings about how you name the show, describe it, or even the artwork. Beyond the obvious reminder that this is a showcase of your work, so how you treat the branding will influence what people think about the work you do. So don’t half-ass it.
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Putting This In Practice For Your Podcasting Practice
So who could use this idea? Podcast producers, who sometimes find it hard to clearly define what they do. Use the trailer episode to explain the role you played, and then the representative episode to act as evidence to back up your claim.
Ad rep firms could extend the idea, perhaps grouping similar shows together in a single season. The trailer could talk about the overall exposure opportunity for the entire category, and perhaps a representative episode from each show could be listed in the season.
Production houses could do the same. Or even prolific podcast hosts who find themselves with various roles on a lot of shows. That’s the beauty of this idea: you can tweak it to work for you.
I'm curious how you might implement this idea. Consider brainstorming some ideas with your fellow podcasters and see what shakes out of their heads. So share this episode with another podcaster you would like to collaborate with.
I'll also remind you to go to BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra if you love this idea. A big thanks the many supporters who in recent days upgraded to a membership—which just means automatic virtual coffee contributions each month! If that’s you, expect an email from me this week giving you some additional details on the Season Four opportunities I’ll soon be announcing.
And with that, I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.