Friday miscellany: Waiting on the magnolias

Spring is slowly coming. We’ve gone up and down between happy sunny days in the mid-60s, and rainy, doleful, upper-30s sorts. The flowering trees are budding. I’ve been taking photos of the magnolia tree in my front yard each day, monitoring the progress. I think the blooms will open before we leave for spring break. Fingers crossed. I would hate to miss the annual 5 days of glory!

I have been singing a lot of German. My choir is performing Bach’s St. Mark Passion for Good Friday. The chamber choir will be singing all the chorales. We get our initial pitches from tuning forks (A), so this has been a challenging exercise in learning my intervals. We’re also learning Mahler’s Resurrection symphony for a concert in May.

I am figuring out a rhythm of writing scripts and recording episodes of Before Breakfast (which hit #1 for self-help podcasts on iTunes this week, so that was fun). In general, my process involves brainstorming a long list of episode ideas. People also email me questions and tips (beforebreakfastpodcast at iheartmedia dot com). About 2-3 weeks before my target air date, I finalize each week’s list of episodes. Then I write scripts, which are about the length of blog posts. I edit, and practice reading out loud (which inspires more edits; I can’t trip over a phrase). Then I find a time to record. While I can do this from my home office (I have all the equipment) I have discovered how much background noise hovers around my neighborhood: trucks, planes, chain saws, leaf blowers, dogs. I recorded several episodes from 8:30 – 9:15 p.m. the other night when the little guy was in bed and the big kids were under strict instructions to be quiet (this involved electronics with headphones).

As part of launching a new podcast, I have pondered how to grow the audience for Best of Both Worlds. I’m also pondering a way to monetize it. I know we have very loyal listeners. I also don’t know that we’re big enough for major brand ads. I am intrigued by the Patreon model (of premium content in exchange for small monthly membership fees). I welcome thoughts on that.

Back on the topic of writing processes: Writing Routines featured me in its weekly interview. I found the question of my pre-writing rituals funny. My pre-writing ritual involves putting the kids on the school bus. Then I write. It is a job. Though questions like this do make me ponder what ridiculousness I could try to get away with and claim it is part of my “process.”

Much kid stuff this week. I drove to and from swim practice three times on Monday. It would have been four but I just stayed for the last kid’s practice. I drove the middle school carpool four times in the morning, and picked up my middle schooler from Reading Olympics practice twice. This is one of the reasons I suspected there might be a market for short podcasts. Some people listen to podcasts during their 30-minute commutes. Others of us have a ton of 10-minute trips in the car. I went to my 4-year-old’s parent-teacher conference. I learned that he is doing great academically. He is also still the kid knocking over everyone else’s block towers. I took him and his 7-year-old sister to their well child visits. We were thrilled to learn that while 4-year-olds used to get 4 shots, several of the vaccines have been combined and my little guy only had to get 2. Small miracles. The 7-year-old found this horribly unfair.

In exchange for my doing all four children’s well-child doctor visits, my husband agreed to plan and book spring break (we didn’t get around to doing this until two weeks before because…planning fatigue again). The good news is that he’s come up with a trip that involves flying direct, sunshine, and enough bedrooms that the snoring members of our family can be separated from the non-snoring members. I’ll write more about this in a few weeks!

In the meantime, this should be a low-key weekend with baseball, choir practice for me (more German), and maybe a bike ride. My daughter had been wary about riding without training wheels but she did it around the park yesterday and was a real pro by the end!

In other news: Have you bought a copy of Juliet’s School of Possibilities yet? If you have, thank you! Please consider leaving a short review at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or wherever you bought the book. You could just copy your review over to Goodreads as well. If you haven’t bought the book, please do! (Scroll down on that page for retailer links). This time management fable shows, in story form, the difference between mere busyness and a well-lived life. As reader Kate wrote over on Amazon, “Inbox zero is a waste of precious time — you are better off devoting an hour to this little gem.”

Main photo: Not quite blooming yet

 

24 thoughts on “Friday miscellany: Waiting on the magnolias

  1. Seeing this photo, I have to say I really like the design of the cover a lot. I like looking at it on my nightstand 🙂

    I don’t think monetizing the podcast with premium content is a good idea. The threshold for signing up for premium is much higher than putting up with a little ads in the beginning, middle or end. Also, when adverts fit the content, I think its actually benefitting the podcast listener.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Maggie — Laura posted this question in part because I am feeling like I’d like to be generating something from BoBW. It’s helpful to know what might fit us better from a listener perspective 🙂

    2. PS: fascinating that sometimes you feel like ads benefit you! The only things I have ever been tempted to try because of a podcast ad:

      Framebridge (never did, but I would consider it)
      Prepdish (perused but never did it, would potentially consider it)
      That window treatment company that I can no longer recall the name of (never needed window treatments, but if I did I’d probably google them)

      I also do use Mailchimp (thanks Serial) and we do happen to have a Casper mattress. Ha!

      1. See! the ads were relevant! I’ve bought a thirdlove bra (wearing it now, love it). I agree 100%, I don’t mind ads in podcasts. They are usually short, not annoying because they are done in the podcasters voice (which if I’m listening, is not annoying) and doesn’t usually take away from the time of the product (since they can be as long as you want them to be). I have never subscribed to a Patreon, even for shows I love, a weekly dose is usually enough for me.

      2. I subscribed to Apple Music due to the Sorta Awesome podcast. That’s the only thing that works for me in South Africa but I would absolutely use Framebridge.

        Smith and Noble?

        I’m guessing you heard it on the Happier podcast 🙂

        Third Love for bras – definite yes!

  2. My personal view on premium podcasts for a fee is that I would never sign up for it.
    Not all my favorite podcasts are on the same services, so if I wanted premium for all of them I would need to sign up for multiple websites (and pay multiple fees). This might just be a personality thing for me. If content I’m interested in (TV, books, podcasts) is not easily available, I will simply find something else that is. I’m actually very surprised that you don’t have adds in your podcast. I think you would be great platform for advertisers trying to catch the attention of professional women, hopefully doing it in intelligent ways.

    On a different note, as someone for whom writing is one of the least fun parts of the job (Scientist who needs to publish data), you can get into a lot of shananigins as a “pre-writing ritual”. It’s all just procrastination and we all know it, but it is 100% part of the process. You can’t get started on that paper until you’ve wasted ridiculous amounts of time doing nothing useful and now either have a deadline looming or are completely consumed by guilt.

  3. Just chiming in here with another perspective – I would 100% be a Patreon supporter if that were an option. And the premium content doesn’t have to be more audio… it could be a private FB group, a newsletter … get creative! But you could do this AND sign up with an ad network – I certainly see both on other podcasts and it doesn’t bother me.

    1. Agree that premium content could be something other than more audio. There are tons and tons of podcasts; BOBW is great, but listeners can probably find more than enough interesting free material to fill all their podcast-listening time (which I think is probably already second-class time most people – commuting or doing chores). There are other, more unique, things you can offer: a community on some platform, or interactive organizational or time-logging materials, or a moderated book club or discussion group.

  4. Agree with the other comments. I love the BoBW podcast but it is one of half a dozen that I regularly try to listen to (note the use of the word ‘try’ as I am often behind on a few of them. Premium content is interesting if it was an alternative. An example is a dog training podcast I listen to (cogdogradio) who offered a premium puppy group. This premium offer included password protected blogs (incl video content) and a Facebook group (incl FB live Q&As).

    Loving Before Breakfast!

  5. I’ll also add this: I’ve stopped listening to podcasts due to too much plugging of premium content or other personal services of the podcaster(s). For some reason ads don’t bother me one bit, but those types of promotion make me feel like I am a commodity to the podcaster and an outsider unless I subscribe or join their VIP groups.

  6. Oh i have so many thoughts. 1) I love before breakfast because I either listen to it while finishing my makeup and hair or on my 4-6 minute drive to work (depends on the stop lights). I also really like that it makes me think about one topic. 2) Please don’t have ads on BOBW. One thing I enjoy is that it’s ad free. I would gladly pay to be a patreon. I do that for another person whose work I enjoy. I agree that you could do something aside from additional audio content that would add value. On the podcasts that I enjoy that do have ads, I fast forward. 3) Looking forward to hearing about your spring break trip. Also I have some suggestions for BOBW topics: Jean Chatzsky just released her new book Women & Money; I think Alison from Get Your Pretty On (she releases seasonal capsules & features work wear) would be an interesting guest. (I know you’ve covered clothing and money before but I think this are perennial topics).

  7. I don’t mind ads on podcasts either, especially when read by the host(s). Although it does seem odd that the ads on Before Breakfast are exactly the same at the beginning and end–it’s especially noticeable because it’s such a short podcast (I’m sure you have little control over that, though).

    I would be fine with a Patreon type program, but please don’t include a private Facebook group as part of a bonus type thing–so many paid programs do this and I don’t like spending time on Facebook so I find this super annoying. There has to be a better community forum than Facebook. A newsletter with tips not shared on the podcast/blogs (or even PDF compilations from the podcast–top Loves of the Week, your favorite tips from guests, etc.) and shorter podcast episodes only available to subscribers are a couple of things I would be interested in.

  8. I don’t enjoy ads – but I guess you gotta to what you gotta do. I would pick a podcast with a few ads (especially if it’s something relevant… like organizers) over a podcast that I have to pay for to listen. Many of your episodes were thought-provoking and fun to listen to… But there is so much free content out there, even if I lose BOBW there is probably something else I could listen to while folding laundry.

    I do hope you blog remains free and ads-free!

  9. Just thought of something else: There are podcasts on Spotify and that’s a platform that charges for premium resp puts in the ads themselves. Would that be an option for you? I have Spotify Premium so that’d work for me 😉

  10. Ads don’t bother me much but personally I would not subscribe/pay to a premium ad-free service. I bought a Dagne Dover bag after hearing a (repeated) ad on another podcast. Especiall enjoyed the coupon code they provided!

  11. I also don’t mind ads on podcasts. Although on Before Breakfast (which I otherwise love…) I’m finding the ad at the start AND at the end a bit much for such a short podcast, especially as it’s the same ad, and I’ll often listen to 2 episodes in a row.
    One suggestion for BOBW might be to check out Adam Grant’s podcast – his sponsors are mentioned briefly every episode, but then they get an in-depth profile in a single episode. This is not your typical ad, but a interview with someone from the organisation about what they do well (in line with the podcast theme). Is it possibly companies would want to highlight their family friendly policies on your show?

  12. Many of the podcasts I listen to are going to the Patreon model. If I signed up for all of them, I’d be spending more than I do on tv streaming! I far prefer ads – they don’t take away from the content and I have purchased a items based on items recommended. And I love when they offer coupon offers. Regardless, BOBW is a great podcast and I listen to every episode as soon as it is available.

  13. Also would be fine with ads but would not pay for content. From what I have seen, ads can run the gamut. Some podcasts have multiple ads on one episode, or spend the first 3-5 minutes of the podcast on ad content, which I find annoying, However, others have just a little snippet of ad time. I think that Gretchen Rubin and her sister do a nice job with their ads.
    I love BOBW, by the way- even though I am in my early 60s and my kids are grown. I have a long commute (80 minutes each way!). You are an integral part of my Tuesday morning commute, with Before Breakfast now added to the mix.
    For BOBW, how about an interview with Cal Newport, author of “Deep Work” and “Digital Minimalism/’

  14. I don’t mind ads at all. Most of the podcasts I like are American, but I live in Europe. Sometimes I get bummed that the product/service advertise is not available where I live! Personally I would rather listen to ads than add another subscription to all the ones I already have. I love your podcast!

  15. Just listening to a Best of Both worlds episode and was wondering whether you had considered contacting the organisations that you highlight in your love of the week and asking whether they can do a deal for your listeners and Sarah could get a cut if your listeners link through. I am a rabid fan of all that you do Laura and will buy any book that you write in gratitude for your great content that you put out there free of charge.

    1. @Hayley- thank you! And I appreciate your buying the books. The podcast does help build my platform, which boosts the number of people who buy books. But Sarah doesn’t have a book or an easily monetizable platform, so we need to figure that out.

  16. I’m totally comfortable with ads on podcasts – I either quickly skip them or have definitely bought the products before – Framebridge, Quip, etc etc. Less interested in the subscription option even though I might be your number one fans. What about just asking for an annual donation public-radio style, is that too weird/financially complicated? We certainly recognize the time put in and would be happy to honor it via buying books, fun products, etc! The monetization part has also been difficult for the originators of another terrific community that I’m part of so you’re definitely not alone.

  17. On the subject of ads, I don’t mind them at all – possibly because most don’t apply to me in South Africa? I do fast forward them if I have my hand free (I listen mostly while driving)

    But I would definitely not do patreon – I can’t even cope with the existing podcasts I want to listen to, and I happen to think that there is great content, very easily accessible.

    I like how Gretchen does ads, and the Sorta Awesome ladies.

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