I have important news to share with all of you! Sarah Rhea Werner (of Girl in Space & Write Now) is teaching a masterclass about podcasting. If you haven’t heard about this incredible opportunity, then allow me to direct you to her website.
I cannot describe how excited I was when I learned that Sarah was teaching a masterclass for podcasters, one that is not only focusing on nonfiction podcasting. Once I heard the news, I was ready to pester Sarah with all sorts of questions. When she agreed to chat with me about the masterclass, I was overjoyed.
How is this course set up, and what sort of timeline are we looking at?
I have developed this course over the last several months and it consists of 7 modules with 51 lessons. Every lesson is aimed at teaching you something practical. The timeline for the course is six weeks, but I worried if I was giving enough time for people to do their homework. So it is a very soft six weeks.
What is the first thing that students will learn?
So in the very beginning we will start by identifying why you want to make a podcast. This part is crucial because we will be using that to craft a mission statement for your show along with setting personal metrics. This is the very first step and will be carried through to the launching of the podcast, and beyond that.
What exactly are personal metrics? Are you talking about having your podcast topping the podcast charts and being downloaded x number of times?
So at the beginning we will be setting personal metrics, and these are how you are going to measure your success. They’re simply personal goals: what you want to get out of your podcast. Vanity metrics are the things like the number of downloads and topping the podcast charts. If a student wants to measure their success by those, that’s fine, but I want them to be aware that those are vanity metrics. They make you feel pretty, but they don’t actually mean anything. What I’ll be pushing really hard at the beginning of the course is finding out what you want to get out of your podcast. So for me, I wanted to change people’s lives. That was why I created the Write Now podcast. I measure success by getting a letter every week from someone who says, “I wouldn’t have finished my book without you.” That is success, that is something meaningful. I’m actually accomplishing the goals that I set in the beginning. So that’s what we will talk a lot about: what will success look like for your show.
Once the students have their mission statement and their goals, what other things will they be learning?
Students will be learning all the ins and outs of creating a successful audio drama. So we will be going through the process of launching a podcast step by step. Students will be learning about branding and marketing your brand. They will be learning about the technical aspects of podcasting: how to record and edit your audio, how to create a sound environment, and creating a website. Students will actually be building their show’s website during this class. They will come out of this course having a completed website. I will also be teaching them about hosting their podcast, creating an RSS feed, and how to submit to databases. I will be coaching them all the way to the launch.
I wanted to make a point of asking you about accessibility. Are you going to be teaching students how to make their podcast accessible to everyone?
Community is very important to me, in a previous job, I was a content strategist for a marketing company. Part of my job was making sure that the websites that we were creating were ADA compliant. So I will be highlighting the importance of things like show transcripts and captioning videos. Teaching students to make sure that they are offering show notes, captioning videos, and even captioning images so individuals using a screen reader can get the full experience of your show.
Are you also going to be teaching students about the importance of trigger and content warnings?
So I include warnings in my press kit, on my website, and in the show notes. Going back, I would change how I indicated the warnings. I wish I would have been more detailed. Maybe we can’t catch everything, but it is important to try to be open to learning. Students will be learning how to give warnings, and where they need to put them.
Whenever people are looking at hosting options and when they decide to join a network, I always worry about them being duped. Are you going to be discussing that in the course?
Yes, I will focus mostly on hosting and what you need to look for in regards to ownership. I don’t want to dissuade or dissuade people into joining networks. I want to make sure that they are making an informed decision. For some people, joining a network could be very beneficial to some, while not so much for others.
Since you have an audio drama track for the course, are you going to be covering casting?
We will be covering casting, but it will be something that will be taught based on what the student requires. We will be going over how many actors they need, and if they will be hiring actors or using family and friends. If they use untrained actors then they will be learning how to direct people who have never acted.
So it seems like this is all very tailored to the individual student, is that correct?
Oh absolutely, and even down to the marketing. Someone wanting to make a beer tasting podcast is going to have a completely different marketing strategy than a person making an audio drama about ghost stories. So what they will be learning is how to market your podcast to the right people, at the right time, and in a way that matches their style.
On the website, it says that there will be live office hours. How will that be offered, and what are you expecting from them?
So, I’m going to be doing live video hangouts. They’ll be weekly, say 2-3 on a Tuesday. Now I am waiting to see what works best for my students, so those are not the actual times. But I will be open and available during that time. If no one shows up, I’ll just hang out. If everyone shows up, then we will hopefully have a lively and meaningful discussions. We will be doing open Q&A, open discussion, giving advice, and basically I’m looking to be as helpful as possible.
Now, the question that can’t be ignored: the cost. How much does the course cost? How did you decided how much to charge?
It is essentially $1000 for the course, which is the same as taking a course at a community college. The price is there because this is a college level course. I am drawing from 10 years of marketing experience and 5 years of podcasting experience. I will be interacting with the students on an one-to-one basis. Students will be getting a coach throughout the duration of the course. But gosh, I have struggled with the cost because it is very important to me that this is accessible.
Bouncing off that last point, how are you making this course accessible?
As I said before, I really struggled with the cost. I know that especially in the audio drama community; there are so many people eager and willing to learn that desperately want to start their show, but they are struggling financially. At the end of the day, I don’t want money to get in the way of you making your podcast. Right now, I am having a sale that extends to August 15th: use EARLYBIRD at checkout to receive 50% off. I do offer a payment plan for the course that splits the cost into 12 installments. I also want to make sure that people know that they can pool resources together to take the course. Finally, I am offering a limited number of scholarships for marginalized podcasters.
Can you explain how someone can apply for the scholarship, and how it will work?
Before they sign up for the course, they should email me for the scholarship form. Once the form is filled out, we will work out the cost. Basically, it will be a pay what you can scenario. I can’t state it enough: it is really important to me that the course is accessible to everyone.
Do students have access to new materials and recordings going forward, or will they only have it for the duration of the course?
Yes! Students will have access to the Facebook group, the recordings, and the workbooks. Students will always be able to access the resources and the new resources as they are added. New things are learned every day, and if I learn a better method of doing something, I want them to have that information as well.
So let’s say that I want to make an audio drama that’s gays in space. What if I only have a vague idea?
You can’t see me, but I’m smiling because I would listen to that podcast. What we would do is find out how you can write about gays in space in a way that’s unique to you and that is going to interest the audience that you want. We would talk about what exists currently, how you want to structure the podcast, how many voices you will have, and then we would figure out where your strengths are at. Creative writing is something very close to my heart. I’ve done this with other writers before: walking writers through character development, asking the right questions, and really drawing out what their unique skills are that they can turn into a really compelling story.
Oh, one last question. How many times year are you going to be teaching the class?
I will be teaching the class again, and I think it will be in the spring. My plan is to have it be twice a year.
Well, I have to say that my conversation with Sarah was great, she really knows her stuff. I am excited to see the new audio dramas that come out of this course. Don’t forget that there are still scholarships available and that the half-priced deal ends the Wednesday, August 15th.
I cannot wait to share even more with you all, so be sure to follow or subscribe to the email list so you can stay up to date when I post. If you have any suggestions for future posts, or want to chat you can find me on twitter @Audiodramarama or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org