In the second article in our Talking Podcasts series, Abbie Headon interviews Alison Jones, a regular contributor to the BookMachine blog and an expert commentator on all things digital, about her podcast, The Extraordinary Business Book Club.
1) Where did the idea for The Extraordinary Business Book Club podcast spring from?
Basically I wanted to have the conversation about how business books are working for businesses today out loud, doing the research for my book in public, and holding myself to account at the same time. Plus I’m nosy and love talking about the backstory of books! (My BookMachine blog of April 2016, when I first launched the podcast, gives more detail on this.)
2) How does it fit into your wider activities?
It works on several levels. It’s supplied a lot of the raw material for my own book, This Book Means Business (publishing in November), of course, much of which I’ve written as blog posts and articles as part of my broader content strategy.
It’s helped build my online platform, with several thousand listeners each month now, many of whom have joined my Extraordinary Business Book Club Facebook group and have signed up to my email list. It’s helped me develop my professional network with authors, agents and publishers. And it’s built my business, as several listeners have got in touch to ask to work with me as a coach or publisher, or both.
3) Who do you see as the main audience for your podcast – and when and where do they listen?
I describe the podcast as being for ‘readers and writers of extraordinary business books’. Most of the listeners who contact me are actively writing a book based on their own business or expertise, or thinking about it, but others just like hearing the story behind others’ books.
I go ‘under the hood’ in a way that’s quite unusual in book podcasts, not just talking about the topic but getting the author to talk about the mechanics of the writing, how they dealt with common problems like procrastination or structuring a mass of material, and particularly how the book works alongside their business.
4) Why is podcasting the best medium for you to achieve your goals?
It’s a wonderful medium – much easier to produce and consume than video, but so much more engaging than a blog. I listen to podcasts when I’m on a long run or driving, and I love the way they unfold over time, you feel as though you get to know the host and their quirks, and you can have the consistency of the host’s introduction and their own update along with a different topic and interviewee every week. Not every podcast uses the interview format, of course, but for me it’s perfect.
5) What are your future plans for The Extraordinary Business Book Club?
Right now I’m focused on getting the damn book finished – this is the downside of the podcast, every week there’s a new idea to go in there just when I think I’ve locked it down! I’m developing the ‘club’ aspect, with plans for a membership option and discounted book sales, maybe even author events. I’ve had to cut so much out of this book that there’s definitely a second book to come, and I’ll focus the next round of interviews on developing that!
6) What’s your advice to anyone who’s thinking of starting their own podcast?
It’s a big commitment, but it’s probably less technically difficult than you expect. Don’t get hung up on fancy equipment, you can treat yourself to a nice new mic when you hit 10,000 downloads or it starts paying its way, but until then a lapel mic on your iPhone or a headset will do fine.
Focus instead on WHY you’re starting the podcast: who is it for, what’s it going to do for them, and what’s it going to do for you? That 4-part model isn’t a bad way to think about it: how will it develop your platform, your network, your business, and yourself?
And if you’re not sure you’re ready to commit to a weekly podcast indefinitely, consider trying it out with a series of 6, say, and see how it goes. If you discover you enjoy putting it together and that it achieves the goals you set for it, you can turn it into a full-blown podcast. And if you do, send me the link and I’ll take a listen.
Alison Jones (@bookstothesky) is a publishing partner for businesses and organizations writing world-changing books. She also provides executive coaching, consultancy and training services to publishers. www.alisonjones.com.