Creating a Bingeable Podcast By Sparking Comedy Moments with Jacob Givens of The Biofriendly Podcast
As part of my series of interviews about “5 things you need to know to create a bingeable podcast”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jacob Givens.
Jacob is the Director of Promotion and Marketing at Biofriendly and is responsible for public relations, brand awareness, and the Biofriendly Planet initiative which includes environmental education through media. Givens also helps co-manage the online magazine, Biofriendly Planet, maintains Biofriendly’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with relevant content in the environmental space and writes, films and edits The Biofriendly Podcast, airing weekly on Thursdays.
. . .
Can you tell us a bit of your “personal backstory? What is your background and what eventually brought you to this particular career path?
I arrived in Los Angeles almost 20 years ago as an aspiring actor and writer. Like most people discover in the pursuit of a career in the entertainment industry — it isn’t easy! Thankfully after a few years of odd jobs, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a creative collective of friends with like-minded aspirations, and we formed a production company called Good Cops Entertainment. With our combined talents we wrote and produced two popular YouTube series’, “Good Cops” and “Tumbleweed,” which were quickly picked up by Machinima, a subsidiary of the Warner Bros. Digital Media Network.
Our online success eventually led us to writing and producing the indie horror classic, “I Had A Bloody Good Time At House Harker,” with Shoreline Entertainment. Shortly after, our producer and co-founder of Good Cops Entertainment, Noel Carroll, accepted the CEO position at a green solutions company known as Biofriendly. Noel came to me with his vision of expanding Biofriendly’s environmental services into educational media through Biofriendly Planet, and after a decade of collaborating on creative content, we knew that together we could forge a path of education through entertainment with The Biofriendly Podcast.
Can you share a story about the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you started podcasting?
Without a doubt, the most interesting thing has been people singing The Biofriendly Podcast intro theme song to me when we meet. You can call the tune an ear-worm I suppose, but it thrills me to no end that our show’s happy-go-lucky song has a lasting impression on people.
Can you share a story about the biggest or funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaways you learned from that?
After our first month of releasing the podcast in audio format only, Noel and I decided we would start filming the show so that we could expand our audience to video platforms like YouTube. We set up two separate cameras on opposite sides facing each other and hit record. It wasn’t until afterwards that we realized we had placed our cameras pointing to the exact same side, breaking the 180-degree rule in filmmaking, and making the video rather jarring to watch us swap between both hosts.
The mistake becomes even more hilarious that the following week we tried to correct the problem by switching camera angles — but we BOTH switched the angle which only duplicated the same problem but on the other side! Needless to say, this was a fantastic lesson in communication and that Noel and myself make better writers and producers than directors.
How long have you been podcasting and how many shows have you aired?
The Biofriendly Podcast debuted in March of 2019. To date, we’ve released 72 episodes with new ones arriving each week.
What are the main takeaways, lessons or messages that you want your listeners to walk away with after listening to your show?
From the beginning, we knew we wanted to steer clear of the doom and gloom often associated with environmentalism. Our hope was to inspire positive change at the ground level for everyday people through comedy and light-hearted banter that never sought to shame listeners for not doing enough. We always remind our listeners at the end of each show that we are ‘a beacon of light in a gloomy environment.’
In your opinion 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 your content?
People are pleasantly surprised when they listen to our show and discover that it’s an eco-friendly podcast without all the browbeating and that we embrace humorous tangents that spark some laugh-out-loud comedy moments. It’s easy to binge-listen because we cover a new topic each week, and the casual conversational style is welcoming. We’ve continued to see our guests gradually let down their guard with our approachable interview style and cut loose on the show as we explore each subject.
Doing something on a consistent basis is not easy. Podcasting every work-day, or even every week can be monotonous. What would you recommend to others about how to maintain discipline and consistency? What would you recommend to others about how to avoid burnout?
I recommend that you figure out your recording and release schedule before you begin publishing your podcast. It always takes a little bit of experimenting to discover what you’re capable of producing, whether on your own or part of a team. Once you establish your preferred length of each episode, set a consistent schedule so that you don’t fall behind.
For my personal journey, I’ve found that having more than one host keeps the podcast fresh with varying perspectives and maintains discipline as you hold each other accountable. After all, you’ve chosen to invest the time and energy it takes to share your interests with the world, so make sure it’s a subject you are passionate about to avoid burnout.
What resources do you get your inspiration for materials from?
Fortunately, our in-house environmental website, Biofriendly Planet Magazine, is a treasure trove of inspirational material for each podcast. Biofriendly Planet’s editor-in-chief, Tara McFatridge, consistently maintains an engaging platform of everyday solutions for environmental problems. She with the help of a carefully selected team of recurring writers, contribute to the global conversation on all the ways to go green. Outside of that, we are always keeping our ears to the ground about the latest eco-friendly innovations around the world.
Is there someone in the podcasting world who you think is a great model for how to run a really fantastic podcast?
We were recently introduced to a podcaster named David Dodge, host of the Canadian multi-media series, Green Energy Futures. David has dedicated his life to educating people about green energy in Canada and has spent over 8 years churning out hundreds of podcasts to spread the word.
What are the ingredients that make that podcast so successful? If you could break that down into a blueprint, what would that blueprint look like?
Green Energy Future’s format of only 4 minutes is a great starting place for someone wanting to learn more about the subject with limited time. That paired with the consistent release schedule and narrowing his environmental focus to energy — creates something accessible, digestible, and specific.
Can you share with our readers the five things you need to know to create an extremely successful podcast?
- Find a focused topic. If you center your subject around something that has a constant supply of new material, then it allows your show to keep up with the global conversation on media, politics, science, and more.
- Two hosts are better than one. Whether you choose to invite outside guests onto the podcast or not, having more than one perspective on a certain subject is more engaging for your listeners.
- Widen your circle. If your podcast delves into certain subjects too frequently, listeners might become weary of your repetitiveness. Invite different perspectives from your own and get out of your comfort zone.
- Consistency is key. Give your audience a release schedule they can set their watch to. If they know that every Monday they can count on new content from you, it will become second nature to tune in!
- Quality sound makes a difference. Make sure you invest in a good microphone and recording set-up above all else. There is something inviting about the human voice when captured well, and you don’t want crackles and pops to distract from your podcast.
Check out the full interview in Tracy Hazzard’s Authority Magazine Article about Jacob Givens!
. . .
1) Book Great Guests. It was all about reaching out and making connections through social media to find guests that were interested in coming on the show. We are fortunate to live in an era with fantastic remote interview technology like Zoom, Google Chat, and Skype, which all allow podcast guests from around the world.
2) Increase Listeners. Persevere and stay the course! Over time, your consistent release of quality content will turn heads and before you know it you’ll find a small, but loyal audience.
3) Produce in a Professional Way. Once you have the necessary recording equipment, make every effort to have a quiet space during your recording in order to sound more professionally produced. Reduce background noise to almost nothing at all so that your voice is the only thing the listener will focus on.
4) Encourage Engagement. Spread the word about your podcast through social media. Increase engagement by asking for feedback through posts online. You can launch interactive surveys, games, contests, or asking your audience to chime in about a future episode subject.
5) Monetize Your Show. Every podcast service usually has a monetizing feature to help you with advertising or promoting products on your series.
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?