The Secret To Starting A Successful Local Podcast Group

0

They’re popping up all over the country. Local podcast meet-up groups start out small with a handful of members. If the organizer is consistent with monthly meetings, strong speakers, and is serious about teaching the trade, as you will see here, they will grow.

Jason Rigden runs the Seattle Podcasters Guild. The group was organized less than a year ago with two goals: to support podcasters in the Seattle area and increase podcast listening. Monthly meet-ups have grown to up to 40 people and the Guild now maintains a complete list of all the podcasts being made in and around Seattle. Jason also hosts a show about Seattle podcasters where he interviews a local host and helps promote their shows.

 PBJ: When and why did you organize the group?
Jason: The Seattle Podcasters Guild started in November of last year. We had our first meet-up on December 4, 2018.

I started the group after talking with my friend, Seth Goldfarb. We wanted to meet other podcasters in the area. I figured that we could network, trade tips, give advice, and generally just socialize. Being a podcaster can be surprisingly isolating. Often your friends and family don’t really understand what you are doing. Just sitting down and talking with other podcasters is an amazing and encouraging experience. Several people told me during the first meeting that they also had wanted to start a group like this. I think the Seattle podcasting community was ripe for a meetup like this. If I didn’t organize it, someone else would have.

I also started it because I am a podcast fan. I want podcasting to continue to grow and flourish. I was trying to come up with ways to help that happen. When you look at music, you’ll see some cities produce more good music than others. This is often because they have a highly connected network of musicians in that city. Those musicians trade tips, collaborate, and cross pollinate. I think we can do the same thing with podcasting. This little group is connecting creative people. That is a very powerful thing to do. Maybe some of these folks will stop doing their current show. But I doubt they are going to stop podcasting. Maybe these folks will start a new show with people they met because of the guild. And that new show could be a huge hit. In the near future, some cities are going to emerge as major podcast incubators and hubs. I want Seattle to be one of those cities.

PBJ: How many members came to your first meeting and how did you grow it?
Jason: We had about 20 to 30 people come to our first meeting. It is hard to say exactly how the group has grown. We always have new faces at each meeting. Most folks seem to have learned about the group from Twitter, Meetup.com, or word of mouth. I think making that list of Seattle podcasts helped too. It helped people see what kind of content was being created in the area. That helped make people want to come and check it out.

PBJ: What are the meetings about, do you have speakers, and how long do they last?
Jason: The meetings are just about socializing. We don’t have an agenda or speakers. We just meet up at a brewery and hang out. It is very casual. We’ve considered having speakers, but I think that would add too much complexity. You need a space and volunteers for that. Our meet-ups are very simple. I think that is one reason why it works. In the future, we may do some panel discussions over the Internet.

PBJ: Were you surprised by how many podcasters there were in Seattle?
Jason: I had no idea. I started making this list of local podcasts. I wanted it to be a complete list of all Seattle area podcasts. I thought maybe there would be about 100 shows. Right now, that list has almost 300 Seattle podcasts. I get emails every week from folks wanting to be added to the list. The list just keeps growing!

Jason Rigden started the Seattle Podcasters Guild in 2018.

PBJ: Do you recommend others try to start an organization like this up in their town?
Jason: Yes! Organizing this group has been so rewarding. I’ve met so many awesome people. I’ve learned so much. If you have a meetup in your area, go to their next meeting. If you don’t have a group in your area, start one. You will meet so many creative people. Slack chat and Facebook groups are great. But, there is nothing that can replace face-to-face contact.

PBJ: What advice would you give them?
Jason: Keep things simple, be adaptable, and just do it! That is the same advice I give to people thinking about starting a podcast. Starting a group is very similar. It is probably good advice for any endeavor. Also be friendly and welcoming. I try to greet and talk with everyone that comes to our meeting. Going to a new meet-up is scary. Try to make everyone feel welcome. We’ve probably all been to meet-ups and left feeling excluded. I don’t want anyone to feel like that. I want everyone from the aspirational podcaster to the podcasting professional to feel appreciated and wanted.

Also don’t try to make money off the group. I think one reason people trust me is that I’m not selling anything. There are no tickets to buy. I’m not trying to sell a course or consulting. I’m just trying to connect people.

PBJ: Tell us about your podcasts?
Jason: Well, I’ve got a bunch of podcasts. I’ve been podcasting since 2005. I’ve hosted, produced, or otherwise participated in over a dozen different shows through the years. Right now, I’ve got two active shows.

There is the Seattle Podcasters Podcast. On every episode I interview a different Seattle area podcaster. I ask them about their show, how it is made, and what motivates them. We also talk a little about podcasting in general. I’ve released about 15 episodes of that show. Episodes are now being released on Saturday and Sunday. I produce this show for the Seattle Podcasters Guild as a way for us to further connect with each other. Lots of folks can’t come to our meet-up. And even if you do, generally you are not going to ask them a list of questions like this. This is a way for people to kind of virtually get to know each other. It has been a great way to learn about, and from, these local podcasters. It has been a wonderful experience doing this show.

I also do a show called Talk to Seattle. This is a local interview podcast focused on civics, politics, and the arts. I’ve had a whole bunch of Seattle politicians and activists on. I’ve also had Seattle area street artists, musicians, and authors. And occasionally, I’ll have folks on to talk about national issues. I release episodes of the show five days a week.

Reach out to Jason by e-mail at jasonrigden@jasonrigden.com