Embrace the power of starting again. Every step, no matter how small, builds momentum toward your podcasting success. For today’s episode, we have Shaunna Lee, the host of Start Again, to discuss the dynamics of podcast engagements. Shaunna shares her personal journey of overcoming adversity and embracing new beginnings after divorce. She believes that it’s never too late to start anew and shares how her podcast has become a platform to encourage and empower individuals to take those first steps toward their dreams. From crafting engaging solo episodes to nurturing successful guest and theme strategies, Shaunna reveals the secrets to building momentum for podcast engagement. Tune in now and find inspiration in innovative beginnings!
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Maximizing Podcast Engagement: Strategies For Success And Innovative New Beginnings With Shaunna Lee Of Start Again
I had great podcasters come across my desk. One of the main ways is this PodMatch which I love. Alex Sanfilippo has been on the show before. You have read me talk about him, frequently. PodMatch is one of the great ways that I get in touch with some new people who are looking at promoting their show. What I love about it is that it is someone who’s actively looking at ways to grow their show. They make better guests and Shaunna is no exception.
I have Shaunna Lee, the Start Again podcast. I love that. Start Again is such a great concept. She’s a best-selling author with a wealth of experience leading women through their start-again moments. She offers one-on-one coaching and a self-paced online course. She also writes books and hosts two podcasts. Her works center around body, mind, and soul alignment, falling in love, and learning to monetize you are gifts.
For many of you, podcasting is your gift. She may not have realized it until you got started and that’s such a brilliant thing. If you haven’t started your show, think about starting now. If you started one and maybe it didn’t go quite right. Maybe it’s time to start again. Hopefully, Shaunna Lee is going to inspire you on that front as well. Let’s get to the interview with Shaunna Lee, Start Again.
Shaunna, I’m glad to have you here with me and start again. It’s been weird, but I have had a lot of podcasters who have started again. This might be a good topic for starting again in your life, after divorce or if you quit your show prematurely, and now you’d like to start it up again.
It is a concept that applies across the board. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it. I’m happy to be here.
Did you have Start Again as in your business model already or did that come out of the podcast?
The podcast came out of the business concept. If I’m honest, it all started from a shame-filled period in my life. I was coming out of my third divorce and feeling quite embarrassed about my personal life and how many stumbles I had. I had these nuggets of wisdom, knowledge, or whispers from the universe that are not ours, they are ours to take action on and it was to write a book about recovering from divorce. I thought, “No way can I do this.” I kept hearing it.
Initially, I wrote the book So You’re Divorced, So What? It was the catalyst for everything that came after that. It was this concept that it’s never too late to start a new thing and you are never too old to do that thing that is calling to you. I had been hearing the whisper to write a book my whole life. I waited until my mid-40s to finally do it. Shortly after I started getting some practice listening to my intuition and following those nudges, I was hearing podcasts as a way of growing my audience and building my business, and then it all came together with this start-again concept.
I have listened to a lot of your topic episodes and I love that you are doing solo topics. I’m glad that you didn’t wait until you got 100 episodes to discover that they would be good for you. I’m glad you did that earlier because a lot of people have that a-ha later in their show. You have done it earlier and it is so important. The solo shows, you talk about this a lot. You talk about this concept of getting a fast start, getting going and moving, and how important that is. Did you take that advice for yourself on the podcast? Did you get a fast start? Did you just jump in?
Yes and no. Initially, I wanted to say, “No, I didn’t do that,” because I heard the whisper. I will say, “It might take me a little bit to take that first step.” The reason I’m so much a fan of imperfect action that’s why I talk about a lot on the show is, “Just do the thing. Jump in. Do it imperfectly. Get started.” It’s because you build momentum and your confidence along the way. Each step prepares you for the next step. That I have done. That piece of advice of my own I do take. That first step sometimes takes us a little bit to get there.You build your confidence along the way. Each step prepares you for the next step, which prepares you for the next step. Click To Tweet
What did you find the most daunting part of starting the podcast?
Nothing that I anticipated.
Isn’t the thing that we are most concerned about doesn’t turn out to be the problem?
I wasn’t concerned at all initially about growing my audience. I was more afraid of what people were going to think of me. When I was creating these solo episodes, “What are people going to think about me giving advice on any one topic?” Until I realized in the very beginning, “You are doing good to get a couple of people to listen to your episode. Now I need to grow an audience. How do I get this message in front of the people who need to hear the message?” I feel like I’m speaking to a black hole sometimes. It’s sending my message out into ethers and it’s meant for people that it hasn’t reached yet. That was the one thing that I had not anticipated that was going to become so much of my focus and a bigger challenge than I expected.
I wish people would articulate it that way. It’s like, “I need to grow my audience. What I need to also do is be there for the person who needs me the most at the right time in the right place.”
That is why I wrote my book and created the podcast because some people read and some people listen. That’s how it goes, but I know what encouragement I have to give. There is a woman out there or many who need to hear that in the way that I’m going to say it so that they will get up off the couch and go take the first step towards whatever it is that they want to do.
The thing is, especially when we are talking about something that’s in deep pain, which might be starting again, it could be from deep pain or even from a shame position. Those are things that we consume when we are ready. No one can push you into that. That may be at 2:00 in the morning. It may not be on your livestream schedule.
It’s interesting because a lot of my book purchases have been gifts for other people. Some of the people are like, “My best friend is going through a divorce. I need to give this to her.” The thing about it is for that book, specifically, it is intended for the day you wake up and you are like, “ I can do this.” That’s when you are ready to read the book. It’s not when you are going through the trauma of the loss that you are going to be in a headspace to be able to even consume it. The podcast is the same.
Growing your audience. Let’s talk about that because you said that was your biggest challenge. What ways have you tried? What did you abandon? What did you keep doing? What’s working for you?
It’s been word of mouth. What is interesting is a lot of my circle, my friends and family, many of them are married and not divorced. For them to support me feels wrong. It feels like they are celebrating a divorce. I have had that feedback a lot. My word of mouth through those circles isn’t super effective. I attended social media. I have been on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. I have not Jumped on the TikTok bandwagon. I’m on Threads. I’m in all the places. That can feel discombobulated. I would love to hone in on a focused approach that is effective. I am still searching for what that is.
You are not alone. That’s the number one thing I hear from everyone who comes on this show. No matter how many episodes they are, hundreds, they all say the same thing that they have not figured out the formula to what’s working for them yet. There are a lot of shows that I encounter. Shows on addiction, divorce, and widowhood and shows that are in a deep pain position but also something that maybe you are not surrounded with people experiencing the same thing as you at that moment in time. It’s harder for them to grow an audience than other shows.
That’s why you are a guesting network. That’s why I want to talk about next here are the guests that you have on your show. Your guests are important because hopefully, they have reached into an audience. You were telling me that you have got quite a backlog of guest interviews. It’s why you went from having 2 guest interviews a month to now having 1 every week, having your solo show and your guest interview show every single week, you have both of them because you had so many guests. What have you been doing as you have been screening through and deciding who’s going to make the right guest for you?
I haven’t been doing the maker break yet. I have been essentially leaving it up to the universe. If they come across my plate, I will interview them. That was my initial approach. What I have found is initially, I had the overwhelming of my calendar being full and then I had to create some automated mechanisms to prevent that from happening. Thankfully, I have a corporate background so I know how to take advantage of technology to work in my favor.
I was able to automate a lot of that and limit and create some boundaries. I went from recording 2 days a week to only 1 day a week. I’m trying to narrow the funnel at this point. What’s interesting about being inundated with all of these requests, I would wake up literally on a Wednesday morning with 4 interviews scheduled, and then 2 of them would fall off. Naturally, things are falling into place. Of all the interviews, I have done thus far, there are probably only 2 out of 30 that I have felt, “Maybe that one wasn’t quite aligned.”
I’m in a position now where I can say, “I’m sorry. It didn’t make the cut or I can just air it and be more selective in the future.” The crossword that I’m at, to be honest, is deciding how I want to do that. PodMatch was helpful in this way that I could hone in and be more specific about the types of guests that I wanted to have. That was another qualifying mechanism. With the intake form on my website, I can be more selective there and create those mechanisms moving forward. I’m to the point now where I can be selective which is such a good problem to have because, for a while there, I was, “How am I going to get people to want to come on my show?” It shifted. The story changed.
That’s valuable. I have a Feed Your Brand episode that I did on that. That’s our sister show. We did it on the four types of podcasts. The thing is that sometimes you need a different type of guest at a different stage of the podcast and business. You are at that stage where you are at that tipping point where, “I need a different type of guest.” Now maybe you need a guest with a bigger reach who has the right type of audience for you but that bigger reach and you are right at that point. That’s your new screening criteria. It’s different from what it might have been.
I am going to have men on the podcast for the first time which is exciting. Men have some things to say too. Next season, I will be focused on authors while this season we have been focused on business owners. It’s allowing me to create themes within my seasons and each month, the way that they have fallen naturally, there are some themes to those conversations. It’s been cool to be able to cultivate that a little more intentionally.
Are you tying your seasons and your themes to your marketing plans as well?
In what way are you doing that?
Naturally, it fell this way but it’s allowing me to create those conversations. Honestly, some of them have been more focused on life after divorce and some of them have been more focused on starting a business. For October 2023, I’m very excited that I already know that that’s going to be love month. It’s not usually the month we talk about love. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness. I’m going to do my own thing. It’s going to be love month and I have got a book that I’m writing and a course that I will be promoting that month. It will all tie in well together.
That’s important that a lot of podcasters overlook the opportunity to theme them to what you are doing and to what you are promoting in that given time period. That is a highly overlooked way to make sure that there is synergy and everything that you are putting out there and promoting in your email lists, your social media, and your podcast tie together because we record ahead. Sometimes we forget to publish them at the right time.
Initially, I was struggling to get content. That was the missing piece for me. I wanted it to feel like the podcast was playing into whatever I was promoting but also it was part of what I was talking about in my emails and it gave me appropriate content for social media. I wanted it all to play nicely together. I don’t want it to feel artificially cultivated, but I wanted it to blend nicely and play well together.
You have the Start Again Club which is the email list that you are building on your website. How is it going? This is one of the things a lot of podcasts struggle with but how do you get listeners off of it and into the email list? Is that working for you or are you finding any mechanisms where you are able to do that easier?
This is one of the mistakes I made. I wasn’t using my podcast guests as a way to add them naturally or automatically to my email list because we get so many emails. I want people to opt in intentionally despite all the regulations that we have in place that require us to do that. I want people to want to be on that list. I want them to want to receive my emails because they are adding value and helping them.
Not because I’m going to be another person or another name in their inbox trying to sell them something. I haven’t used my guests. What I do is create an invitation in the initial email like, “Thanks for being a willing participant and a guest on my podcast. I want to invite you to be a member of the Start Again Club.” That’s what I’m so doing far. I have had a couple. I wouldn’t say it’s super successful. I am all ears for suggestions because I hadn’t contemplated my guests becoming my clients thus far. New wave-looking things.
It’s a very different model. There’s no secret here. I share it all the time what a guest funnel looks like. I modeled that for people all the time. The reality is that what I found personally is that guests have a bigger ego than their listeners. They do not like to be lumped into a mass mail process. They want something special. If you created a special VIP list with special things that you gave them, some downloads, and other things, you might get that to track for you than you would if you put them in the same list that everybody else goes into. They think they are above the bucket.
I can see that. I had been on the receiving end of that requesting to be a guest and then didn’t guess spot on the podcast but did become a member of their email list. I thought, “That’s not what I asked for.” I was overcompensating for not doing the same thing.
This is the question that I want to ask you here because the number one part I see fall apart, there are people who are working hard to do a great job at opting in people to their list but then they are not emailing them regularly. Do you have a regular system? What are you doing in follow-up? What’s in your email list when somebody joins your club?
I have a weekly newsletter that goes out. I’m inundated with podcasting and that has been what is included in that. It is very much adding value and providing reminders. “Here are the episodes that went live this week.” Before that, I was consistently emailing people once a week at a minimum. I have a few automated emails. There are some automated pieces in place when they first sign up and when they join certain programs. Outside of that, I’m trying to get consistent with my once-a-week at a minimum reaching out to them, so they don’t forget about me and that I can add some value to them. Also so that I can create the habit.
What happens is that you get somebody to sign in and then you are like, “I’m going to use it when I need to promote something.” That’s not what they were anticipating when they were getting it. They want more connections with you.
That was part of my reasoning behind calling my email list a Start Again Club. I wanted them to feel like they are part of a club and they are getting preferential treatment. You are getting information that you are not going to see on social media or hear in the podcast. I’m going to remind you of all those things that I’m doing out there as well, but I want it to feel like they are a member of a club and they are getting something out of being a member.
Let’s talk a little bit about social. You mentioned that right there. How is social working for you? How do you promote your podcast on social media?
Social media is a lot of work for me.
You are not alone there either.
What I have tried to do is hone in on which platform makes the most sense for me to be on. I need to go back and look at my analytics to see if the post with audio clips is making a difference because I have been on the fence like does a static photo, reel, or a photo with audio. What is making people look at that post and go listen to an episode? I haven’t quite figured that out. What I’m trying to use mostly Instagram and Linkedin for is a visual business card, “This is what I’m up to. These are the things I’m working on.” I’m letting people know staying in front of mind. I have pulled back from using that as an input mechanism.Really hone in on which platform makes the most sense for you to be on. Click To Tweet
It’s hard. You are interrupting their social media process by trying to get them to go listen somewhere else. That doesn’t mean that divorce doesn’t happen to them and they are like, “I remember. Shaunna Lee posted about this and there’s a podcast out there. I can go check that out.” It will help them. A difficult place is that the media’s types don’t always match. Podcasting and social media don’t always match and that’s why a lot of podcasters have opted for video. What if you thought about video?
I have avoided it. Kicking and Screaming.
That’s what I suspected but I hadn’t asked you that question beforehand. I was like, “I suspect that she doesn’t love video.”
It’s not that I’m opposed to being on video. Plenty of my online programs with me creating videos of myself. That piece is not the obstacle. I like creating a podcast where I don’t have to do my hair and makeup. I like the idea of being able to roll up and have a conversation in my pajamas and not worry about what it looks like. That’s what initially got me over the hump to say, “I can do a podcast,” because I had that, “Let me just sit here comfy and cozy, and then record a conversation.” I see that’s the direction where everything’s going. It makes sense as to why video is more fruitful. I’m just not there yet.
I hold back if I were you because as I mentioned, I have a big segment of my client base who have these deep pain position-type shows in addiction, divorce, and widowhood. Those do not do as well on video. It doesn’t transfer into listeners and it’s because it’s a private thing and we don’t want to be watching it on our phone while we are out in public somewhere.
A lot of my conversations are not about divorce at all, which is interesting. It’s a core component of what I do and why I do it. It’s not what we talked about. It’s not necessarily going through the divorce or talking about how hard it is. We all know that. It makes us feel like tender babies. It’s more about, “You got this. Get up off the couch. You can do whatever it is you want to do. You are free now to do whatever it is.” It’s more about creating the opportunity and the awareness of what is possible.You got this. Get up off the couch. You can do whatever it is you want to do. You're free now to do whatever it is. Click To Tweet
That would be the spin-off. It’s like, “How do you use your inspirational pieces on video?” It would be the way to create it rather than saying, “Create a synopsis of my show. Create a little clip for my show.” You are selectively choosing the parts that you are utilizing out there. That could work for you. That’s a good idea.
I agree with you. I wanted to start a podcast in the beginning because I didn’t want to have my hair done. Now all I ever do is video. We never know where it’s going to head for us. You mentioned to me you were looking at planning your 100th episode. You are planning nicer and far ahead because as the time as we speak of this, we have got 50 published. What’s up? What’s going to be happening in the second half? How are you going to celebrate 100?
I can’t even believe that I’m talking about the 100th episode at this point. This is only my second year into podcasting. I thought, “One hundred seems so far away.” I didn’t think about it. I have two podcasts, but the other one is this super fun thing we do with my girlfriend and I. We chat about random stuff, but it was on one of those that I was talking about this problem I created of all these people. I’m going to be at my 100th episode before it. I said it and didn’t even think about it. One of my friends listened to the episode and said, “You need to throw a big party when you get there.” I thought, “That sounds fun.” We are going to plan a big party.
I’m hoping that the way it falls into place and I can create this reality if I would like is I would love for that to be happening at the end of Season 3 so then it’s wrapping up that 3rd season. It will be a great celebration of, “I have done 3 seasons of a podcast and I reached 100 episodes.” I don’t even know if that’s normal or realistic for the time frame. I have seen plenty of podcasts that struggled to get to twenty.
There’s an elite 2% that make it over 100 episodes. It’s a small number of shows that make over 100.
It warrants a party.
I did on a coaching call, I was given the suggestion that it’s a great way to get local publicity. Newspapers, magazines, and local media don’t like to cover a podcast launch because they know that they quit too quickly.
That’s what we encountered with the other one.
You will probably quit it before we ever finish the drink here. That’s the way people think so they won’t publicize it, but when you hit 100, you earned it and then they are more likely to cover it. It could get you more publicity and more listeners. It could be a great growth strategy. You have to tell me how it comes. Come back and tell us all about it. I don’t want to leave before I tell you what I believe your binge factor is which is my job to analyze all the people and shows who come on here and all the great hosts.
Start Again’s binge factor is truly in the play between guests’ stories and topics. The fact that you have this interplay between the two is what creates this opportunity for me to want to binge on your show and consume more. By skipping me around and not doing a whole show that’s all on guests and topics. By mixing them in, I’m seeing great guest topics, ideas, and stories as I’m going through and perhaps skipping to some of the topics that I’m looking for.
You are giving people an opportunity to say, “I don’t want to miss that.” Before you know it, they are binging on your entire show. I love having you here. I’m glad you are podcasting. I’m glad that the Start Again podcast is out there. What can we do to support you or any questions that you might have we could address for those getting started again on their podcasts? What advice can you bring to them from your expertise area?
The one I come back to over and over again is this idea that baby steps are better than no steps. We know that as we take one step we build momentum and confidence. That first initial step does not have to be a grand leap of faith. It can be a tiny baby step toward where you want to go because that will build your momentum. The very first step is the most important one and it can be as tiny as you need it to be.The first initial step does not have to be a grand leap of faith. It can be a tiny baby step towards where you're wanting to go because that will build your momentum. Click To Tweet
That is such an important advice. Thank you for the Start Again podcast. I can’t wait for your next 100.
Thank you for having me. It’s been so much fun.
- Alex Sanfilippo – Past Episode
- Start Again
- So You’re Divorced, So What?
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- LinkedIn – Shaunna Lee
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