Ideas churning—looking for your opinions

As I mentioned here, I have some ideas for changing my podcast a bit, and I’m looking for questions or opinions to help me get a bit of focus. I recognize that the broad answer is “You can do whatever you want! It’s your podcast!” — I’m trying to figure out what the “whatever you want” is.

Currently on Ordinary Chaos, there are four threads, and one episode of each thread is published each month (currently on four consecutive days):

1- I interview an artist about their work, their process, etc.
2- I interview an ordinary person—“the person next door”—with the same question set list for each (though the conversations don’t all follow the same trail).
3- I talk with Rocket Kid, my 10-year-old son.
4- Rocket Kid hosts an interview, so far with other kids, though this month’s episode, he’s talking to his grandmom.

What’s the point? That ordinary people are interesting. That you don’t have to be famous to be interesting. Everyone has a story. My bigger why is to help people see the humanity in other people. Rekindle empathy. Decrease other-ing.

My plan already was to change the publication schedule in January to one each week instead of in a cluster, just to see if it affects downloads/listener interaction at all. For my work flow, I like the current schedule but I’ve given myself enough notice that I believe the shift will be OK. (That gives me six months in the current format—it’s not a new year thing.)

But I got to thinking that talking to small business owners would be cool. I know a couple of people who own their own business (as their primary source of income—lots of people have side hustle businesses but that wouldn’t be my focus), and I patronize quite a few mom-and-pop shops. A fifth thread?

I also got to thinking that there are stories that people have that make me :flushed: and it would be fun to record those. That would be harder to find/ferret out but feels doable. A sixth thread?

And I got to thinking that Rocket Kid could have an additional thread for interviewing adults. A seventh thread?

OK, Heat, this is getting out of hand. But it still all fits under the “normal people are interesting” thread.

My thought was that I’d record new intros so each episode type has its own (I think I will do this, regardless).

Publishing on what schedule? I don’t know that I have time for almost doubling the work load unless the work load is more lucrative. (I don’t know how to do that, or I would have done it already.)

Noodling about this in a mastermind group, someone suggested splitting it into two (or more?) podcasts. Split mine/the kid’s? What other direction to split it? Do I want to do all the up front work to get another podcast out into the world? (No, not really, but I can.) What’s my publication schedule at that point? Seems there would be overlap which feeds back into the previous question of time.

So, beautiful people, what are your thoughts? I accept straightforward honesty—no need to dance around your answer. (I also believe you can be honest without being brutal.)

Thank you for reading all of this, and for your help!

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Sounds as if you are quite clear in ‘what you want’, or at least that’s what I hear. That is, the common thread of ‘normal people are interesting’ runs clearly along all of your ‘I could’s’.

This seems quite an important question to answer though.

What would be the actual benefits to a split? Or just ‘more work’?
How many listeners do you have currently, and do you have a way to reach out and ask? Perhaps one of the things they love aboud your pod feed IS the different threads still sticking to the common thread?

Not sure if any of this is helpful but it’s what popped in my mind as I read, so…

Good luck noodling!

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Wow, @Heat
There is a ton of stuff to address in your email both on the content side as well as the nuts and bolts production side.
First, I see you are a creativity machine. I hear what you want to bring to the world and not much about the change you are seeking to make, not the specifics, e.g. talking to small business owners would be cool is not a change you are seeking to make. To use that statement as an example, I’ll riff on it to demo what I mean: talking to small business owners would raise their visibility and bring them more business, this would only be viable if you had a following or if you used the interview to engage with new listeners to your podcast by promoting the show in their store to their customers. That way you’d both win.

What a totally awesome thing to do for and with your kiddo. Having you create yourself a producer or production company and be his producer would create some clarity and structure for moving ahead.

My umbrella suggestion is to slow down. Is there someone in your life who has organizational skills. You remind me of the early stories of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Woz was all about the creation and jobs was out there making deals.

All the best, AnnieP (she/her)

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A better way to say it would have been “I’m trying to figure out what I want this to look like.”

The more I think about it, the more I don’t necessarily see any, other than people who complain that they don’t want to listen to children will stop complaining to me about episodes with children. But that’s not a driving force.

I don’t get this information from Podbean. There is a user retention graph, but because of my publication schedule, it’s not useful. This is part of why I’m changing my publication schedule in January—to see what this tells me and if it’s something I need to know.

I have 1100 downloads, and I know what players and what geographic locations, but that’s all.

People who I know who listen to it and who have offered thoughts enjoy the different threads. But I’d like to branch out beyond people who I know…

@AnnieP

Why yes I am! And it’s so lovely to have the time and space to generate and produce all sorts of things, including but not limited to the podcast.

The change is the same for all of the threads. To show the interesting side of ordinary. To help reinfuse recognizing the humanity in other people. In the case of the artist thread, which would also be true of the small business thread, I want to show listeners the Hard. Creating and putting it out into the world is hard. Creating and running a small business is hard. But so many people blow off creativity as “not a real job” or somehow otherwise easy to do (even though the same set of people would be the first to tell you that they themselves don’t have those skills…).

I have no idea what that looks like or what the benefit would be?

I’m actually pretty organized much of the time. But your example wasn’t about organization, so maybe that’s not what you were asking?

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@Heat
The producer position would move you out of the ‘mom’ arena and help him organize himself by teaching him to line up his guests, set up his equipment, etc, then backing away and letting him do it. It amounts to less hands on for you and a sense of ownership for him, it also frees up time for you and your projects.

I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a moment. I’m ordinary and I work hard so why would someone want to hear my story. What is the payoff for the listener? Entertainment? A change in their point of view. I think they would need to have that change before they listened so that listening reinforces something they all ready know. This is getting very circular and I’m not sure any clearer.

I think you are referring to my example about interviewing the store owner. I was giving an concrete example that could benefit the store owner and potentially you in building an audience.
As to the organization piece, your reaction tells me I was too oblique. I think you have too many oars in the water at one time. The organization I was speaking about has to do with setting a production schedule for each item. Some can be done simultaneously, some linearly for those items that require focus and concentration.
AP

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@Heat hello podsister!!

My 2 cents is that you keep doing what you are doing until you have a lot of content.

Here is my idea…edit, edit, edit to create the new podcast. Your trailer for your show is fabulous…I want to hear more like that from you.

What if you come up with a list of topics that you feel passionate about and then splice together bits and pieces from your content (like you did in your trailer) that support your topic. Kind of like authors do when they are creating a book. They start with a “puke draft” they just get it all out and then they start editing. Musicians do it when they jam for hours and eventually edit things down to a single awesome song.

Hope that makes sense.

So proud of you! You are such a leader and trail blazer! Keep going…you are just “warming up”…HEAT!

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Maybe the change you are seeking to make is to get people to see that “normal people are interesting”?

I feel a lack of connection to your audience here, like you don’t know what they would want. If you’re doing it for them, I think you need to develop a way to get their feedback about what you’re doing.

How could you develop that connection beyond seeing a podcast download number?

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Ohhhh! I think he’s not in that place yet. He would need to get parents’ emails from me anyway—he doesn’t have contact information—or he could ask kids, but then their parents contact me to set up a time anyway. He doesn’t have a Zoom account to set the stuff up. He doesn’t regularly check email (actually never, unless I send something to him and ask him to look at it).

He does set up the equipment, and he has edited some of the interviews where he and I are talking. I started him on those because we record into one mic, so there’s only one track. I’m letting him get his footing before giving him a two-track recording.

The devil doesn’t need advocacy :wink:

Because it’s interesting. We feel boring because we’re used to ourselves and nothing feels exceptional. But, as we say in the intro, “What’s normal for me/might be unusual for me” (two people talking there). Completely intertwined with this is our general devaluing of ourselves and of making it through life without being famous for something. Because exceptional people become famous for being exceptional, and if I’m not that, then I’m normal and boring. There is nothing wrong with “just living,” and everyone has a story. Not necessarily about what their to-do list was that day.

I’ll give you an example. I was talking with a friend who told me a 10-minute story about her adult child and a situation with cats and roommates. It was a very funny story. After the story, the conversation shifted, and at some point, she asked me how I think about things to write about (I blog several times per week) because she would have nothing interesting to say. But that story she just told me! Interesting! Funny!

Yes.

Their POV might (hopefully!) shift over time as they listen, but it’s a more surreptitious goal. And I don’t think they have to change first. People are changed constantly by their diet. It’s why anxious or depressed people are often told to turn off the news. It’s why I listen to and read things that are in lanes that I want to move into. It’s why I try hard not to spend a lot of time with people who typically act in ways that I don’t want to be. Because we are constantly and inevitably changed.

This is the piece I was asking about.

Too many oars—I definitely feel that sometimes, and I definitely feel the opposite sometimes. How many is too many? Or enough? I am getting all the things done during work hours (usually) without being stressed about them (usually), and that’s my metric. Maybe it’s not a good one—I don’t know. I’ve never walked the path of a professional creative, so I’m just walking. But for a while I was working on stuff all the time, and I got it all under control and production feels good now.

I don’t want to overwhelm my schedule with podcasting. It’s something I very much enjoy doing, and I could easily spend more time doing it, but it doesn’t make money (or it hasn’t so far), and if I want to keep living this life, I need to make money doing it. So if there’s going to be a lot more time on podcast, there needs to be revenue.

Thank you very much for your time and thoughts—I appreciate this dialogue!

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Hello! Thank you for your thoughts! I appreciate you taking the time.

The trailer was to show the different threads…and the monthly teasers are similar. I could conduct interviews with that style in mind, but I don’t have the time or patience to sift through all the old content, looking for bits that match themes. Good for NPR for doing that. In my team of one, that’s way more time-consuming than I’m willing to commit to.

But your comment, combined with a couple of other things, made me consider that I could make a question list (which I started), let guests choose three or four or whatever questions that they wanted to have conversations about, and splice those into one-question-several-answer episodes. That feels do-able.

The difference for me (because I wrote and edited a book fall 2020/winter 2021) is that it takes so much longer to listen than to read. I can skim a piece of paper or flip pages in a notebook or scroll/search in a document, but listening for something that I don’t know the time stamp for takes forever. I hate it.

Yes. I thought I said that, but when my brain is going a million miles an hour, I sometimes omit the basics.

I have no idea, honestly. I have never had success in receiving feedback. Maybe (probably) I ask the wrong questions. Maybe only a small percentage of anyone is ever going to answer, which is why companies bribe people with drawings to get them to answer surveys, and my audience is small enough that it rounds down to zero or one.

I’ve gotten two pieces of unsolicited feedback besides “I love it!” (which I’ve heard from a few people).

One person doesn’t like children and would like me to make it two podcasts so he doesn’t have to listen to the children. (Given that he’s not required to listen to anything, I think his wording was poor.) BUT when I offered that interaction to my mastermind group, their thought was that having the adult and children threads in one podcast was a feature, not a detriment, and I should leave it. One person’s response was, “You’re providing free content. He can take it or leave it.” Which is double-edged. Because I can’t change my work to try to please everyone. It’s a fool’s errand because everyone is not pleasable. But there’s also value in providing what your audience wants.

So do I dismiss that as “not one of my 1000 true fans”? Or completely change what I’m doing? Given that this person enjoys the other two threads and has the capability to skip the episodes he doesn’t like, I’ve so far left it alone, and at this point, I think I’d split off Rocket Kid if I had weekly episodes all of my own, and let his be separate. But going back to part of the original problem—that creates significantly more work and I need to have a boundary on work that I do for free.

Thanks for your questions. I appreciate you taking the time.

I get that. When I was in radio and I would interview someone for 20 minutes to get pieces for a :60 commercial, I would listen once and make note of key things with a time stamp…make for easier sifting…if you jot down things while interviewing and have a timer going…that would eliminate the listen step.

I am sure you will figure it out if you just keep going…and I need to do that too…I am waaaaay behind you.

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OK, I’ve talked about it with Rocket Kid. I’ve put out a survey in places where I have listeners. (Social media, weekly newsletter, on the Ordinary Chaos main page.)

He doesn’t want his own podcast; I’m fine with that.

He was excited about the idea of having one week each month be “Rocket Kid Week” where we’ll put any episodes he’s involved in. These are typically 15 minutes or so, shorter than the 30-45 that the adults-only episodes are. This gives him flexibility in who he’s going to talk with.

I’m going to have one episode per week the remaining three weeks. I’m thinking at this point that I could use any of the threads, existing or conceptual, in those three spots. So now what I’m chewing on is: does consistency matter in which thread and/or in what order? If I release every Monday, as long as that piece is consistent, is that enough for the “to be a professional, you have to be consistent” box to be checked?

I have had one person fill out the survey so far. (I didn’t ask for identifying information, so I don’t know who it is.) At the end, I have a “anything else?” box and they wrote:

“How much do you love this podcast on a scale of one to ten? 11!”

So there’s a little validation :slight_smile: