“Always be polite and if a guest doesn’t want to be on the show, leave the opportunity open in case they change their mind.”
As part of my series of interviews about “5 things you need to know to create a “binge-able” podcast”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Boston, and Massachusetts in general, is a design force. Innovation and design is just as much part of our history as tea in the harbor. At AIGA Boston we want to share the cool things that people are doing in the city and how design is flourishing. From the boom of tech companies in the seaport district, to the tradition of print in Cambridge and everything in between The Boston Designcast is here to highlight the design that shapes how we live and where you can find it.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about why or how you got started as a podcaster?
We are Sarah Lincoln and Michael Coleman of AIGA Boston, and we started the Boston Designcast. For some context, AIGA is the largest professional design organization in the country and Boston is the seventh largest chapter. For most of the organization’s history, it’s been largely event-based. We saw an opportunity for a podcast to bring content that has been successful for our in-person events and make it more accessible to folks. Not to mention, easier to produce logistically because we don’t have the pressure to sell tickets, book a venue, or find catering. The podcast highlights interesting and important work that designers, and other creatives are doing in Boston in a way more people can access. For folks who are getting started in their career, new to the city, or looking for fresh perspectives on the craft and practice of design, they can use the podcast as a tool to connect with the rest of the community.
Can you share a story about the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you started podcasting?
Michael: “We have met a lot of great people, most recently the man who designed the Papyrus typeface.”
Sarah: “Once a month we meet with incredible creatives who have shared stories from stamp collecting to tackling the challenge of building more diverse and equitable workplaces (that episode will be released in August). The most interesting thing that has happened has been that with every new story we find and share, more appear. The design work that is happening in Boston is really inspiring and humbling. The community has been so open and generous with sharing it with us.”
Can you share a story about the biggest or funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I got about halfway through my first real interview before realizing I wasn’t recording. -Michael
Sarah: “Last time I was recording everything was working except the headphones, a problem that had happened before but fixed itself at the time of another recording. I spent nearly an hour trying to troubleshoot, downloading drivers, restarting the system then my guest kindly suggested that it was on mute. She was right.”
How long have you been podcasting and how many shows have you aired?
As of this summer we are celebrating our one year anniversary as a podcasting team!
We officially launched in October of 2018 and have seven episodes with three more scheduled.
What are the main takeaways or lessons you want your listeners to walk away with?
Our mission as AIGA Boston is to advocate for a greater understanding of the value of design, enhance career development, inspire community members, and connect designers at various stages in their careers. Which each podcast episode, we hope to create something that aligns with each of those pillars whether or not a listener is from Boston.
Ok super. Now let’s jump to the core of our discussion. You are a very successful podcaster. Can you share with our readers the five things you need to know to create an extremely successful podcast?
Podcaster Influencers, Sarah Lincoln and Michael Coleman of The Boston Designcast Podcast shares the best ways to:
1) Book Great Guests: Start with an idea for an episode and then find a subject matter expert in that area. We reach out with an outline based on their knowledge and most of the time they are excited to share and grateful that the framing of the episode is already considered. Always be polite and if a guest doesn’t want to be on the show, leave the opportunity open in case they change their mind.
2) Increase Listeners: We had the benefit of a built in community that was eager to listen when we were ready to launch, but the same principles can be used even if that isn’t the case. Find communities online that share the values of your podcast and ask the community leaders if they can share your podcast with their other content. Use social media to get the word out but develop a strategy on how to promote it, don’t just post without a plan.
3) Produce Like a Pro: That was a challenge for us at first as well. Research helps, there are luckily tons of great tutorials on youtube that helped us. Adobe Audition, a good microphone, and a (very) quiet room will get you far. We record at our public library which has a space dedicated to multimedia projects that anyone with a library card can use. They offer professional mics and mixers for free and we’ve also reached out to the community to see if there are folks who know about audio engineering who could help us (primarily visual designers) understand what makes a podcast sound good.
4) Encourage Engagement: This goes back to developing a strategy. We have pretty much an open door policy, anyone who wants to be interviewed or produce an episode can (as long as it aligns with our values). We interact with listeners and invite them to share their stories as well.
5) Monetize Your Show: We haven’t monetized the podcast yet, however as a non-profit we are funded through membership so we always plug that listeners can become AIGA Boston members as a way to support it and in the next year we are working on partnerships with different companies and organizations that will fund the podcast either with sponsored content or with advertising.
From your vantage point what are some of the reasons why a person should consider creating a podcast series?
We’ve found podcasting as a way to better serve and engage with our community and that is one of the reasons we’ve found success with it. It’s been a meaningful way to foster connections with designers and design enthusiasts who may not have had the opportunity otherwise.
Nowadays it seems as if everyone is trying to jump on the podcast bandwagon. Are there people to whom you would advise to avoid podcasting and instead focus on another medium?
Podcasting is a lot like social media. It’s easier than ever to share a thought and broadcast it into the world via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocketcast, etc., it would be like advising someone not to start an Instagram for whatever reason (but with less instant gratification). We think anyone should try it and see if there’s genuine interest and passion is there, but for folks who want to start a podcast to become famous, this probably isn’t the way to go.
How has your position as a podcast host and a person of high authority, impacted your business, sales, and/or increased your opportunities? Can you share a story with us?
The Boston Designcast has been a great tool to better engage with AIGA Boston’s diverse community of creatives. With so many people of different backgrounds, careers, and experience levels it can be challenging to create content for everyone to engage with just by planning events. This allows us to try different kinds of content to see what resonates.
What makes your podcast binge-listenable? What do you think makes your podcast unique from the others in your category? What do you think is special about you as a host, your guests, or the content itself?
Each of our episodes is the perfect length for your commute into work, or to binge on your free time. Episode length was a factor we had to take into account when planning our podcast. Too long and you won’t hear the entire thing on your way to the office. Too short, and there might not be enough content for the listener to be interested.
We are the only design podcast that focuses on Boston’s design culture, and is directly connected to the Boston chapter of AIGA. Our guests are smart, insightful and deeply passionate about all facets of the design practice and process and Boston is a unique mix of technology, education, and industry that we get to explore through the lens of design.
Where can our readers find you on Social Media?
You can find us at:
Is there a specific high-value guest (obviously still living) that you would love to interview on your show, and why? He or she might just see this when we tag them!