Niching down your podcast always provides much value. Not only would it establish your authority in that space, but it would also foster a better connection and relationship with your audience. Sharing great stories, Lisa Mark and Rebecca Lozer of The Secret Life of Weddings Podcast take us back to when they started their podcast and how they have managed to grow it. From working behind the scenes, they have now come forward to the microphone and reach out to their community of listeners. Lisa and Rebecca share all of their journey with us as well as the lessons they learned along the way, giving us tips on booking great guests, increasing audience, producing with quality, and monetizing your show.
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What You Should Know About Podcast Branding
I am with two amazing podcasters, Lisa Mark and Rebecca Lozer and they are of The Secret Life of Weddings. We’re going to talk about what makes them a center of influence in weddings, why they decided to start their podcast and so many things about how they’ve managed to grow it. Welcome, ladies.
Tell me a little bit about your background. Have you guys been wedding planning? What have you been doing that made you decide that this was worth podcasting about?
Rebecca, I’ll let you tell our background a little bit.
We’re both professional wedding photographers. Lisa has transitioned out, but I’m still doing it. Because of that, we feel we know a lot of behind the scenes of going on in the weddings.
There’s lots of stuff to dish about, I understand. My sister-in-law is a wedding planner. We started a podcast for her way back when and only she got too busy to do it because she was still planning, but it was called The Wedding Confessional. Some of the stories I was like, “Please don’t let that happen at my daughter’s wedding.”
It gets pretty crazy. We have our own stories as well, which we haven’t dived into quite yet.
We’ve told a couple and honestly, now that I’ve left the industry, there might be some more common out.
You’re not as dependent on it. You can make a dish with some more. How long have you two been podcasting?
It’s about a year and a half.
How many episodes have you done?
We just recorded our 93rd.
You’re almost to a hundred. Do you have big 100 plans?
We’re getting drunk.
Isn’t that how most of those scary wedding things happen though?
Yes and luckily, we have no wedding planning to do that night, so it’s totally fine. We have a very active fans group online and that’s going to be one of the things we get to talk about with you. It was so funny because I woke up and there was a vote being like, “Does anybody want to bring drunk Lisa back for episode 100?” and everybody was voting yes.
Evidently, you’ve done that before on a certain episode.
There’s been a couple and in about a hundred episodes that I had some rosé, things were said. Drunk Lisa is a bit of a character. It’s rare, but she does come out to party and apparently, I’ve been overvoted that she’s coming out, so what am I going to do? Am I going to say no?
What made you two decide that a podcast was the right thing for you?
Rebecca, do you want to tell her our story of how we came up with the podcasts? That’s probably the best way to explain what we do.
Lisa and I have known each other for quite a few years, and a lot of the times I’ll come out and help her out on shoots. This particular one, she asked me to help her shoot and needless to say, quite a bit went wrong, and I was treated fairly poorly.
Not by Lisa?
No, not by Lisa. Not even her client. It was someone else in the family. She took me out to dinner to apologize profusely for how poorly it went and we started talking, which we often did talk about things that had gone on at weddings we’ve shot. I think we were talking about My Favorite Murder and how that’s a podcast and we were like, “We should make this a podcast.” Sure enough, it was born.
Nobody ever talks about the stuff that goes wrong. That is exactly why Laura Hazzard, who is my sister-in-law, who is the wedding planner and I had thought that no one tells that and you learn more from your mistakes than you do from your successes, so why wouldn’t somebody want to talk about something that’s about failures and mistakes?You learn more from your mistakes than you do from your successes. Click To Tweet
We want it to be real. We were getting a little cynical. We’ve been in the wedding photography industry for years and we were like, “Everything is perfect in magazines.” It all has to be perfect all the time. That’s not how it happens and we’re going to share it. Vendors also like us couldn’t share their stories and now they’re sending us their stories anonymously, brides and grooms are and everybody is. It’s been therapeutic for people to be able to put all this out and hear it on the show. Also having the podcast allows us to do it anonymously, be that proxy for people to live vicariously through the show and release their stories out into the world.
Has some interesting things happen to you because of having a podcast?
We did get to go to Florida. Himalaya flew us down to Podfest, which was amazing.
Did you get to hang out with a lot of other podcasters?
We did. We also have an interview with Kevin Smith. I went after him hard on Twitter. We had another comedian named Jonathan Torrens who’s Canadian and he’s fabulous. He’s best known for the show Trailer Park Boys. He plays J-Roc, which is one of the characters. He’s got a podcast as well. We tweeted at him and said, “Will you come on the show and tell us a little bit about your wedding?” and tell stories with us. He’s a comedian, he’s hilarious and he did. Kevin Smith, I found out is a huge fan of a show that he writes on called Letterkenny Problems. It’s a Canadian comedy show. I was going after Kevin Smith. I was doing some creative videos and tweeting them at him and Kevin was liking them, so I knew he was seeing them. Kevin Smith is a wedding officiant. Not many people know that.
He’s done some very interesting weddings. He also got married on Skywalker Ranch, which George Lucas owns that ranch, while he was mixing the audio for Chasing Amy or Dogma. He’s got all these great stories, so we wanted to go after him to get on the show. I had the balls to ask Jonathan Torrens to ask Kevin Smith to come on our show because I knew he respected him. I just on the fly, asked him, he did it, then I tweeted the video at him with the podcast audio of Jonathan Torrens asking him to come on our show and Kevin retweeted it and said, “Let’s do it.”
I had seen an interview, and I’m going to have to remember who it was he was being interviewed by, it could have been Trevor Noah or Stephen Colbert. He was being interviewed and basically admitted to his daughter that he showed up for his first date with his wife with his Hockey jersey on and shorts. His daughter’s answer was, “And mom married you?” You’ll have to find that clip because it was hilarious and he has an interesting and funny relationship with his daughter, which I found fascinating. I cannot even imagine what her poor wedding’s going to be like someday.
He’ll probably officiate it.
What are some of the funniest things that you’ve either talked about on the show or happens to you on the show as you were trying to record?
A random thing that happened, it’s silly, but I like adding interesting people to my LinkedIn. You add people and you’re like, “They’re never going to add me back.” During a recording, Dave Cooley added me back on LinkedIn. I put it in the podcast because we’re a very chatty podcast. We like to have fun. I was like, “It’s amazing. He added me back on LinkedIn.” One of the best stories. Rebecca, can you please give the gist of what the story was that you told me on our episode that we recorded on 93?
Our audience wrote it in and titled it Game of Thrones us Wedding. The connection was, if you’ve seen Game of Thrones, you know that one of the characters is sleeping with her brother. She wrote in a story about how she went to a wedding with her boyfriend and she was looking for the bathroom and she stumbled upon the groom making out with someone. During speeches the maid of honor was speaking and it was the maid of honor that she realized was making out with the groom and it was his sister. That’s probably the most cringey story we’ve had.
There are some more dirty details to it, but we don’t dare share them on your show.
They won’t make it in the article either way. I’m sure that authority will go, “That doesn’t sound like something we should say.” What about some mistakes you made when you were first recording? First getting started that you want new podcasters to learn from you too. Did you make some mistakes and learned some lessons early on?
Probably mostly to do with audio quality. We had never done a podcast. We were like, “How do you even start?” Done is better than perfect in this world and I think it’s important that you, at some point, get your ducks in a row, get some basic equipment, learn a little bit about what you’re doing, but then you have to jump in and learn as you go. The first episode, the audio, it had one channel. It was all on one side or the other side. I screwed it up that way and I did the editing. That’s part of my job. Rebecca takes care of the stories. I had to learn how to do the audio mastering and also we were recording in this big open room with all this extra noise and we were like, “This doesn’t sound very good. We should probably change it.”
The audience, what you can’t see, it looks like they’ve created tents for themselves. There are cool blankets and comforters surrounding them. They’ve created for it a podcast fort. That’s the first one I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen some people in their closets before podcasting with me and interviewing, but I’ve never seen anyone in a fort and I love it. My girls would think this is fun.
It’s our little igloos.
It’s a good choice because your sound sounds great and I can see from your equipment you didn’t overbuy which is the next mistake most people make. They buy expensive equipment and it has a crappier sound, and people don’t understand that. It’s because they’re not in a studio is what we’ve discovered. A studio mic belongs in a studio. When you’re not in a studio, it picks up every sound around you and it makes it more work for you to edit.
That was one of the biggest mistakes we made is we had a condenser mic and we needed a dynamic mic. We ended up slightly downgrading our mics when we upgraded to the Shure SM58 and they’re fabulous. One of the best things we did was we invested in Cloudlifters.
What’s a Cloudlifter for our audience?
A Cloudlifter essentially goes between the microphone and our Focusrite Scarlett audio interface and then the audio interface plugs into the computer. The problem with the dynamic mics is that they don’t have a lot of power. The Cloudlifter takes that audio and lifts up the power. What you can do then is turn down your gain or volume basically on your Focusrite audio interface or whatever audio interface you’re using and you don’t get as much ambient noise coming in from your recording. This way you don’t have that ambient room hiss noise that you have to try to edit out. It’s beautiful, clean audio. It’s so easy. You literally get a couple of extra XLR cables and plug it in between. You need to know nothing. You need to set up nothing. There was no software. It goes from one point to the other and all of a sudden you sound a lot louder on your recording. You can turn down the volume.
It’s a great suggestion. Thank you for sharing that. Let’s talk about the little lessons that we’re going to have. How you become a center of influence in your niche and your market. What are some of the best ways to book great guests besides harassing them on Twitter? Although I love that, harassing them on Twitter seems to be a great way.
What we did though is we didn’t just harass them. I would say we asked Jonathan and yes, you can be persistent. I kept doing stuff to get Kevin’s attention first. I took clips. I did a video of myself, for example, and I was asking him questions saying like, “You should do this and what do you think of this?” I would intersplice it with edited clips of him I downloaded from all over the internet saying different words and I made it like we had a video already talking. I was trying to make him laugh. You’re trying to give them value. One way to do it is if there’s somebody you want and they have a book coming out. They have a website. They have something that they want to promote, a TV show. Ask to have them on around that time and say ideally you have a bit of audience you can leverage. This doesn’t matter if you’re a celebrity or not, but especially the higher profile ones, they’re going to want to know that you have some audience so they can promote their product to them.
If you’re going after somebody who isn’t necessarily as much of celebrity, you don’t have to worry so much about your numbers, but the point is, no matter what you’re doing, you’re offering value to them. You can be like, “I’m going to promote you to all my audience. I’m going to promote you on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Show them what value you have for them before you ask and maybe make them laugh. If it’s a celebrity, make them laugh, get their attention and do something unique. Kevin didn’t respond until I had done two or three videos and clearly knew what he was about because I handpicked a comedian. It was convenient that they happen to like each other’s work. I thought outside the box and I think that’s what a lot of people don’t do is they don’t think outside the box. Get creative. It’s free. My husband’s dad always says, “It’s free to try.”
What about the increasing audience? How do you guys increase audience? What’s been the best way?No matter what you're doing, offer value to your guests. Click To Tweet
What’s the best way, Rebecca?
I think Facebook groups definitely.
Facebook groups and cross promotion. Basically, as far as Facebook groups go, you want to target who your audience is. You want to think about who’s our average audience. We found out that it was the average audience of My Favorite Murder because I’m a fan of that show. Rebecca likes it too, but I knew from the beginning that’s who I am and I like this stuff. Therefore, other people like me will like it too. You have to create almost an avatar in your head. It’s like sales. It’s like, “Who is going to be buying or reading? Where do they hang out?” They’re all in this gossipy, My Favorite Murder group. They’re going to love our show. How do I organically get my content in front of them? I would go in and be like, “We’re starting a comedy podcast all about crazy wedding stories. Who has a wedding story that they could submit to us?” It doesn’t look like I’m advertising, but in a sense I am.
They’re going to read to find out if their story got picked. We talked a little bit about production quality, but how do you produce it in a professional way? It’s not easy.
I am hesitant to be like, “It’s not that bad,” but it isn’t that bad for us because we have our style of the show. We have so many friends who are incredible podcasts artists and hosts and they have highly produced shows. We don’t care if we say, “I’m here.” If there’s anything truly distracting, we will edit it out. Rebecca and I’ve been doing this for so long and we’re besties, so it’s been very organic with us and we don’t overproduce our show at all. We’re very much like My Favorite Murder. I hate to keep coming back to it, but it’s true because that’s a very chit-chatty show and we are after that audience. If you don’t love those kinds of shows, then you wouldn’t be down with our show anyway.
Do you produce it at the quality of the show type you wanted, which is interesting?
Yes. It’s completely different. It’s a 180 from a fully produced show with dramatic music. We have a little bit of music in the intro and outro and that is it. We don’t add sound effects, we don’t add music, we don’t over edit. I tend to have to edit more if we have a guest on because they do more, “Ums, and” That’s normal, but we’ve been doing this for so long and we’re very comfortable with each other that we can talk and record.
I’ve done a thousand episodes total between all four podcasts that I’ve been doing for five years. What I discovered is I do it pretty much in one take. I know that my team does edit it, but they’re editing probably noises around me that show up or mostly my guest and not me and that’s great. When Tom and I are doing cohosting, he talks so much slower than I do and I’m so much louder than him that I know that they balance that. They set the balances and then it’s good for the rest of the show, but that’s always an issue for us is when you do have a cohost, are you stepping over each other? Some of that happens. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
I don’t even think we struggled with that at the beginning. Did we Rebecca?
No, not really because we’re two different personality types too.
We had to turn Rebecca’s mic up more.
I always joke when I go to a speaking event, they’re like, “Do a check.” I was like, “You’re going to turn it down as soon as I start talking. As soon as I’m excited, my voice will be so much louder. Trust me, you’re going to do a check, but you’re going to turn it down. Just be prepared.” You are asking them to submit stories, but how do you encourage engagement more?
We are very highly engaged not only personally as hosts with our audience, but we also encourage engagement by offering content on our Facebook group that is not available anywhere else. We for instance, talked about this bride who went viral. She had a wedding where she wore a bikini and they got married in a mud pit and she wanted this to go viral and it did in a big way. We said, “To see photos of this wedding, go to our group fans of The Secret Life of Weddings. On Facebook, join there and to chit-chat about things and to interact with other fans of the show.” We hang out in there all the time, but people are going to not only interact with us but also to see the content. One of the best tips I can give that has been insightful for us is that we put a questionnaire to join the group and it says, “Have you heard The Secret Life of Weddings podcast?” and a brackets it says, “It’s okay if the answer is no, just be honest.” Not everybody who sees a group on Facebook knows it’s a podcast. First of all, it gives them that call to action of if they haven’t heard the show, “This is a podcast group, maybe I’ll go subscribe to it.”
Question number two is, “Where did you hear about us?” We want to know did you hear about us from a cross-promotion on another podcast? Did you hear about us in a Facebook group? Where are we being talked about? This helps us focus our efforts because if we hear of a group that we aren’t participating in, then we can be more active. Go find that group, go interact in that group and we’ve realized that people are actively coming over from that group, we can go poach them. Step number three is, “Why do you want to join the group?” 99% of the time, the show’s hilarious. I want to interact or I want to see that photo. There was a naked man dancing with a turkey on his groin. It was a controversial thing in our group, and someone was offended by it and we said, “It’s a man dancing with a turkey on his crotch. It’s not the end of the world people, it’s a fake Turkey.” Droves of people came to our group to see the controversial turkey video. My point is to put something that’s either controversial or bears discussion or is interesting in your group privately, don’t tweet it, don’t say follow us on Instagram. Those are not completely useless followers, but kind of. Followers are nice but you don’t know if they see it. They’re not going to interact on the same level and you want to foster a community to create the engagement that you’re looking for.
Be highly engaged yourself, be yourself on there, be funny and be who you are. Here’s the hard question that every podcaster goes, “I’m not so sure I knew this when I started my show. I’m still not so sure now.” What’s the best way to monetize your show?
Rebecca, do you want to take this one?
Aside from our sponsors, our sponsors are amazing for sure. Aside from that Patreon without a doubt, that thing grows for us. We offer 25-minute additional episodes and people come over to hear that. They want more content, they want to listen more. That’s what they do, and it starts at $3 and it goes up from there and it’s tiered. I think at $5 we offer a video so they can see us tell a story. Lisa started one for $8 for early release and they get to be a part of the live show that we produce for $10.
You’re giving them specials as a part of that too. How did you get some of your sponsors?
The very first one, Zola. A wedding registry approached us because we were so niche. We have their target market and they found out about us and approached us. Other ones we approached directly ourselves. You can go out and find people, think about who’s in your niche. You don’t have to go after HelloFresh or Casper. You can go after someone who’s smaller but might be looking to get into the podcast advertising game to hit your target market. Think about what’s special about your podcast. If you’re doing something, a more generic business, try to niche it down. What specifically about your show hits a specific niche within business because that’s a big market or self-help. What makes you stand out from your competitors, your other podcasts and then go in with that. You want to make sure you have a media kit, which is simply information about who your audience is.
In the beginning, one of the cool things we did was a survey where we asked people, “How old are you? What gender do you identify as? What’s your education level?” That’s a big one because people in advertising and clients, they know that if you have a higher education, generally you’re spending more money and that’s who they typically want to go after. We found out very easily through about 200 different responses that or average audience was 24 to 34 female, highly educated and mostly in the United States.
You’ve got an audience of women is very valuable. I have another podcaster interview and he’s got an amazing show and he does 240,000 downloads in 24 hours, but his is 50 plus women and men, but mostly women 50 plus. That’s an attractive demographic to advertisers as well. He’s not niched down in terms of his category, but he is specifically focusing on an age group that is underserved. How has your position as a podcast host and new authority been able to give you new sales, give more business and any opportunities? How has it helped you from a business standpoint?
I would say it’s not so direct for us. Our product is so different. If we’re talking about wedding photography, the problem is geographically you’re limited. It’s not an online business as much. We are trying to convert it. We launched a store called ShopSecretLifeofWeddings.com and we’re trying to convert our audience to clients by offering things they can wear to their bachelorette parties and particularly these beautiful ring boxes. We have these velvet couture ring boxes that are on trend. We have an order and we are marketing those. We are marketing it as well at a lower price point than other vendors are because they can be quite expensive upwards of $100. Ours is $24.99. We’re trying to come into our market, to our audience with something that we think is on trend, is going to have tremendous value to them and is also at a price point where they can say, “I want to support this show and I love this product. I’m going to buy it from them instead.” We’re using our podcast as a way to be like, “Go to our shop. Shop there.”
I’ve got a connection for you. I wrote an article, it was Valentine’s Day about a company called Ring Cam and they’re based out of Michigan. You open up the box and it’s got a camera and it captures your whole moment. They have whole videos on how to shoot it, how to angle yourself with it so that you don’t end up with boob shots or not capturing our face at all or his face. It’s hilarious. Their videos are funny. You guys would love it. I’ll send you the article and I can connect you with the company and it’s in line with what you’re doing. That would be something more for you to engage with and share. Speaking about that, that’s great that you guys have started a shop and that’s the number one way top podcasters make money. They make money from selling their own stuff or stuff that they’ve contracted over their website.
The gears are always turning. We’re always coming out with something. We do have some other ideas in a similar vein. We haven’t fully launched them yet, but they’re on the launch pad.No matter how big you are, make time for your audience. Click To Tweet
You have such a unique type of podcast. You’re definitely in a niche as we talked about. What makes people come back for more? What makes it binge listenable if I found your podcast and I wanted to listen to all the episodes?
That’s something we hear a lot, Rebecca.
Isn’t it amazing and you are like, “Do people want to binge on me?” That’s crazy when it first started happening.
We hear that a lot. I would say it’s because of one of the things that Rebecca started doing, which I thought was amazing. Tell them a little bit about our sagas.
We would span a story over three or four episodes. I think that started the binging trend a little bit. People would want to hear the whole story. I’m like that too. You see a movie or a TV show on Netflix, people are binging the whole season in one or two sittings. What I did was I took a story from wherever I got it from Reddit or online source or even audience stories and we spread it over three or four episodes. It got people ramped up and wanting to know more.
We do a podcast for podcasters called Feed Your Brand and this is the Center of Influence niche within that where we’re talking to inspirational podcasters. On Feed Your Brand, we call the episode open looping. What you’re doing is a technique called open looping and you can open loop forward and you can open loop back. You’re always referring to a future episode or future continuation and a past episode.
Something we always do as well to encourage engagement, which I forgot to mention is I do unique artwork, which is always on brand for us. It’s pop art inspired. It very much resonates with the target audience we have of women. I always start a thread with the title, which our shows have fun titles. I think the last one was Big Boob Brigade, Winter Engaged and things that are going to make people go, “What is that? I have to know.” We do a lot of teasing. Our audience loves that. We have interesting titles. We have an engaging artwork, then I post a discussion thread and I pin it to the top of our Facebook group and then all of the engagement about that specific episode goes in that thread.
They don’t have to go find it. It’s right there.
They have their tribe, they know where to go to engage and talk about the show they love. It’s been busy in there and good. It’s sustaining itself. We don’t have to post content the way we used to.
Is the best way to find you on Facebook or are you in other social media channels as well? You’re on Twitter because you did mention that.
We’re everywhere. You can pretty much type in Secret Life of Weddings and we’ll pull up on Instagram and Facebook. If you want to hit this fans group because this is where all the inside information goes down. We’re a very fun group. It’s very positive, but also very random. If you like memes, you’ll like our group, but it’s Fans of The Secret Life of Weddings, but you can also go to our website, which is SecretLifeofWeddings.com.
You’ve got Kevin Smith, who is the big guest that you’re going after and we’ll tag them. Maybe they’ll see it. Maybe that will help. Rebecca, who do you want? I want to know.
I wanted to get Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell.
That sounds a lot of fun. I bet there are going to be good stories there.
They’re an all-around, down-to-earth couple. They’re not afraid to put themselves out there. They’ve done a lot of stuff. I love his podcast as well.
He’s doing a new show.
They’re a good fit.
There might be some promotion happening, so the timing might be good.
He’s got his show Bless This Mess.
They’re fun. They will respond to that, I bet. I have to find out when that happens and you’re getting them on, you’ve got to message me. I’ll have to hear all about that. Any last bits of advice you have for aspiring podcasters? What do you have to say to them?
I would say be genuine. You have to engage. If you’re not willing to open yourself up and be genuinely engaging with your audience, there will always be a wall between you. It helps your show grow. Your brand grows if you be your brand. You need to approach your audience like friends because you are dependent on them and you want to offer them value and don’t be fake about it. Be real about it.
No matter how big you are, make time for them. That’s the best advice I can give. They appreciate it and they’ll give it back to you.
Lisa and Rebecca, thank you so much. The Secret Life of Weddings is fascinating. If you haven’t listened to it and I have, it’s funny. It’s got some cringe-worthy stories which I think are good.
Brides are telling us in particular that the need that we are serving is that we are busting their wedding stress. Nobody else has done that. We are serving our need there.
A couple of bad flowers cannot be as bad as some of the stories that I’ve heard here. That’s a great reason to tune in, if not for having some fun with Lisa and Rebecca. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I appreciate it.
- The Secret Life of Weddings
- Ring Cam
- Twitter – The Secret Life of Weddings Account
- Instagram – The Secret Life of Weddings Account
- Facebook – The Secret Life of Weddings
- Fans of The Secret Life of Weddings – The Secret Life of Weddings Facebook Group
About Lisa Mark and Rebecca Lozer
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