“People aren’t going to listen to something just because you’ve got funny things to say, or because you want to get your voice onto a podcast,” explains podcasting expert Rachel Corbett. “You need to give people a compelling reason to engage with your show.”
Meet three successful podcasters who have done just that, launching motivational career-based shows that consistently rank on iTunes, Spotify and Stitcher charts. It’s an impressive feat, given there are over 700,000 podcasts available to Australian listeners, and ambitious podcasters can learn a lot from their stories.
Sarah Davidson – Seize the Yay
Before launching popular podcast Seize the Yay, Sarah Davidson was a mergers and acquisitions lawyer at a large international law firm. While she enjoyed her job, the busy corporate lifestyle took its toll on her health, and she soon left to pursue a different passion – Matcha Maiden, the organic green tea startup and café she established with her partner Nic.
Wanting to help others stuck in the busy cycle, Davidson decided to launch Seize the Yay, a podcast that explores how successful people such as Miranda Kerr and Gary Vaynerchuk find joy through work, rest or play.
“The podcast is there to motivate people to go after what really makes them happy,” she says. “Because we’re not here to just work and die. It’s not all about success and financial metrics and kicking goals.”
Though Davidson had no experience with audio production when she started, the show quickly attracted a devout following. Since launching, Seize the Yay has been downloaded almost two million times. Davidson was also approached to convert the series into a book, which will be published by Murdoch Books in September this year.
"Seize the Yay has had much more of an impact than I ever expected it to,” Davidson says. “My biggest encouragement to anyone thinking of starting a podcast is that it’s way easier than you think it will be. All you need to do is focus on creating great content.”
Listen to… this live episode with Gemma Watts, the beauty writer and founder of Glow Journal.
Madeleine Dore – Routines & Ruts
Like Davidson, Madeleine Dore had never produced a podcast when she started Routines & Ruts in late 2019. But the freelance writer was keen to add another layer to her written interview project, Extraordinary Routines, and audio seemed like the best option.
On the Extraordinary Routines website, Dore interviews creatives from all walks of life about how they navigate the creative process. "I always had the ambition to share an audio version of the project,” she says. “But I wanted it to explore the flipside of routine – the ruts. How people handle the knocks we all deal with in our daily lives and keep going.”
As someone used to working behind the scenes, Dore was initially hesitant because she knew her personality would need to be front and centre. "As a host you have to put yourself into it [and I wasn’t used to doing that as a writer]. I think what helped me to finally do the podcast was telling myself that it’s going to be imperfect to start with, and that doesn’t matter, it just has to exist.”
Of course, Dore had nothing to worry about – the podcast boasts fans as far away as Spain, and currently ranks among the top 200 podcasts on iTunes. Dore is diligent about making sure her guests – such The Family Law creator Benjamin Law and comedian Annie Louey – are diverse across gender, age, cultural background and career, so that her audience is inspired by a range of different experiences.
“It's my hope that after listening... people feel less alone in their fumbles and stumbles and know that there are struggles that come with any career."
Listen to… this special episode called 'There is No One Way', where more than 60 people reveal how they're navigating creative life during COVID-19.
Rachel Corbett – You’ve Gotta Start Somewhere, Lady Startup and PodSchool
TV and radio personality Rachel Corbett is a podcast veteran. While you might recognise her from The Project, where she sits behind the desk every week, you will recognise her voice from podcasts such as You’ve Gotta Start Somewhere and Mamamia’s Lady Startup.
Corbett started working on podcasts in 2009, when she hosted the Triple M Sydney drive show with Paul Murray. At the time, most professionally produced podcasts were catch-up radio shows, and Corbett and Murray were responsible for cutting their show down so that it would work as a podcast. “We didn't think people would want to listen to an exact copy of what went to air minus the ads,” she recalls, “so we tried to fashion the podcast version of the show into something different. We thought it was an opportunity to ship out the best quality content.”
As a radio presenter, Corbett found it a novelty to have so much control over her final product, and she was hooked. Since then, she has become known as a podcast expert. After teaching podcasting at the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) for two years, Corbett became Head of Podcasts at Mamamia, where she helped the network achieve over 90 million downloads. She has also started an online podcasting course, PodSchool, which teaches people everything they need to know about podcasting, from picking an idea to monetising an audience.
“I found teaching at AFTRS so fulfilling and enjoyable. For the first time in my life I realised how much I knew, and how I was able to articulate it,” Corbett says. “When I started producing and hosting again, I wanted to help more people, so I started putting the course together.”
In the background, Corbett is also planning the next season of You’ve Gotta Start Somewhere, the interview podcast that explores how Australian media personalities got into show business. For those eager fans who have been waiting for new episodes since mid-2019, Corbett promises the wait will be worth it.
Listen to… Carrie Bickmore’s fascinating episode of You’ve Gotta Start Somewhere, where she talks about her shift from radio to television.
By Emily Tatti