Podcasters Archita F. and Meha C. at Podcast Movement Evolutions in Los Angeles, California

Speaking at Podcast Movement Evolutions: Our Podcast Launch Took Vulnerability, Humility, Community, and 7 Weeks

by Meha Chiraya and Archita Fritz

One month after launching our podcast, we felt unstoppable. As two moms on maternity leave with newborn babies, we had followed through on the commitment we had set for ourselves. In seven weeks, while giving birth to newborns across two continents, we brought our other ‘baby’, The Nine Oh Six Podcast, into this world.

Speaking at Podcast Movement Evolutions 2020

The Women of Color (WOC) Podcasters community and the larger podcasting network set us up for success in making this happen. This community was open, honest, available, and willing to guide two podcasting newbies in making their podcasting journey a lot less daunting.

Archita Fritz and Meha Chiraya of "The Nine Oh Six" podcast speak at PM2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Archita and Meha of “The Nine Oh Six” podcast speak at Podcast Movement Evolutions in Los Angeles, California.

Throughout this process, we felt that we could share a lot of what we learned along the way, and when we saw an opportunity to speak at Podcast Movement Evolutions 2020, we jumped at it.

Being selected to speak at Evolutions was exciting and validating for us: we were on the right track to start this journey of amplifying voices and sharing the stories of women in our lives and communities that inspire us.

If you want to start a podcast and are not sure if, when, why, and how…below are our three key takeaways from launching a podcast in seven weeks!

1. Know Your Audience

At the start of this journey, we believed that anyone and everyone would want to listen to what we had to say. The tape we ran on repeat in our heads was, “Everybody relates to us. Of course, they are going to listen in!” 

In retrospect, it was truly a copout to think that our message and story could resonate with everybody. We were advised early on to articulate your ideal avatar to the very last detail. We highly recommend this step for new and seasoned podcasters. 

Give your avatar a name, and define clear demographics. Give them a profession, likes and dislikes, hobbies, motivations, goals, challenges and pain points. Be explicit: why should your avatar care about listening to your podcast? 

We wrote out many iterations of our avatar based on the content of our podcast.

Today, we have a three-page living document outlining our avatar. As we wrap up season one of our podcast we have refined this document numerous times as we continue to learn more about our avatar and the audience we hope to inspire, engage and empower.

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2. Content is King

We realized very quickly that having the best intention and having a name, logo, and a lineup of guests for your podcast is not enough. If you have not prepared, or have not identified what matters to your avatar and how you are going to structure your podcast episodes in a way that is meaningful to your target audience, your audience will not press play and listen. Your voice will not be heard. 

Archita Suvikumar Fritz co-host of "The Nine Oh Six" podcast speaking at PM2020
Archita Suvikumar Fritz, cohost of “The Nine Oh Six” podcast speaking at Podcast Movement Evolutions.

Content is king, and especially in an interview-style podcast such as The Nine Oh Six, preparation has been key to ensuring that we elicit compelling stories from our guests by digging deeper within the lens of our avatar.

We have a pre-interview deck where we reflect on our guests and their stories and develop a common red thread prior to the interview itself. While we do allow the interview to go where it takes us, preparation gets us organized to give our audience stories that matter to them.

3. Accountability in Execution

Sometimes you cannot see the forest when you are working amongst the trees.

Have a plan you can execute on and find an accountability partner. Whether this person is your co-founder or co-host, or someone in your informal board of advisors, you should have this person, or people, on speed dial. 

Additionally, when working with a co-host or co-founder, trust is the foundation to success. Both need to trust that you are each committed to the goals you have set for yourselves, with your podcast. Revisit these goals often because small wins or any wins can make you rush into doing something against your brand and against what you define as success for your show.

Our regular Sunday calls and incessant Whatsapp and Slack messages keep us aligned to our goals.

Vulnerability, Humility and Community

So, back to our podcasting journey…

For both of us, launching a podcast and putting our voices out there unprotected by the corporate identities that had defined us for the past 15+ years was initially unnerving. The companies we work for give us automatic credibility in certain settings and to step away from that was daunting. We had to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, and with being vulnerable. What grounded us very quickly was our steadfastness with why we were doing this. 

Meha Chiraya of "The Nine Oh Six" podcast speaking at PM2020 in Los Angeles, California
Meha Chiraya, co-host “The Nine Oh Six” podcast speaking at Evolutions 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

When we were selected to be speakers at Podcast Movement Evolutions, our vulnerability was tested further. Both of us love an audience. We are some of the few people who are energized by a stage and by sharing a message with people. Yet, here was an audience we had never spoken to. It was a community we only hung out with on the internet and a journey we had begun a mere 6 months ago. This is when the power of this community shone brightly.

WOC Podcasters Show of Support

Before our talk, we had so many questions— what steps could we take to connect with our audience? How could we shed our corporate identities for a moment, and embrace a different approach? 

We reached out for advice from the community that knows this best: Our fellow podcasters.

A huge, well-deserved shout-out to the WOC community: one of the first people we reached out to was Danielle Desir, the founder of WOC Podcasters and the host of The Thought Card Podcast, who emphasized authenticity and bringing the audience along with you in the journey when preparing for a presentation at a podcasting conference.

At the conference itself, we felt so lucky to have instant cheerleaders in the audience, including Kriselle Mendoza Gabriel, Nivi Achanta, Heneka Watkis-Porter, and Brittany Pollard. Meha had lunch with Chris Nsiah the day prior, who unwittingly gave Meha the pep talk she needed. We had such an instant camaraderie with others in this group and felt humbled on more than one occasion when we learned about the work of others. 

Our podcasting journey thus far has been humbling, and we feel honored to be able to participate, contribute and collaborate within this podcasting community that is uplifting and inspiring to us and many others! 

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