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How to Create Engaging Podcast Communities: An Interview with Kristin Quiroz Bayona

I met Kristin Quiroz Bayona at the 2022 Podcast Movement Conference. She is a podcast host, coach, and speaker with over 15 years of experience in communications. She has worked with large tech companies, global design firms and entrepreneurs across various industries, helping them tell brand stories through her passion for connection, collaboration and creativity. And she hosts a podcast called Podcast and Amplify.

And she was a speaker at the Conference, and her presentation was titled How Entrepreneurs Can Use a Podcast to Grow a Kick-Ass Community and Empire. I loved so much of the consumer-focused advice that she offered in this session, I met up with her to discuss the idea of community, communication, podcasting and business. Here is our conversation.


Scott: One of the things I got to hear you talk about was your initial approach to like your podcast and some of the content you were doing. And it was rooted on a lot of the things that you had already been successful in on the business side. But then when you got into this content, you realized, OK, while there's probably some elements in there that that can work...if I really want that engagement, I really want that growth, I really want that success...I've got to be more focused on a community-driven concept and strategy where I'm really putting people at the center of it and make them part of that success.

Kristin: Yeah, so I think for a lot of us in business, we're taught to focus on metrics that are measuring the quantity. And so what I realized is those things are great, but to really develop a community, it's about creating a deep connection and you can't do that if you're not really informed about who's listening, how they're listening and getting into those quality metrics.

So I talked about, you know, are you connecting with your listeners as in terms of a podcast, are you impacting them and are you engaging with them? Engaging with them is really the best the way to know if you're having the impact and to be able to connect with your audience. So you know looking at those things and really diving deeper below that, that surface level to understand how can I create those connections.

Scott: Yeah. I think it's great that you point out that, you know, on the business side of things, we're always looking at metrics and algorithms and maybe, sometimes maybe an overreliance sometimes on automations and things like that. And while as we just kind of acknowledge, there are elements still today that where that stuff still has a place, but really from a human standpoint, from an engagement standpoint, what people are thinking, why they're responding, things like that, those things are not always measurable.

With those elements, you mentioned engagement being something that was at least proving to you that what you were doing was working and that you were beginning to have some of that success you thought you would have a little earlier on.

What are some of the other examples when you really started to notice that what you were doing was working and growing that's outside of that, that metrics and algorithm box?

Kristin: Yeah. So in my talk I talked about, you know, we typically look at subscribers and downloads and how those can't give you that bigger story of, you know, is the person who downloaded your episode going back to it, taking notes.

And so those are kind of the things that you could only really know if you are speaking to the people that are listening. So I realized that I needed to create that sense of belonging in my space, I needed to help other people feel seen and heard and to show them what was possible. And so when I started to shift my content to share moments that were personal to me or that would provide solutions that would really create the transformation that I think people are looking for.

That's when I started to see a ton more engagement in places like social media. I have a really solid e-mail list. It's not huge, but it's a very loyal and engaged group, so I could definitely see the interaction increased there. Like people actually emailing me back because I think sometimes you get those emails in your e-mail box and you don't feel like you can e-mail back, but it's like when people actually do, then it's like, 'Oh, okay! So they're taking that time to reply." Yeah, which is a big deal and so things like that.

Things like people telling me, "Oh, I shared your show with someone you know," and that is huge, right? Because. sharing something that you know will take your best friend's time because time is so valuable. That's like, "Oh okay, this person is really getting something from what I'm putting out," you know, it's interesting you talk about the list not being gigantic, but what you have is you know is real.

They're engaged, and they're generally interested in getting this content from you, which I think ties to what we were just talking about. When it comes to an obsession, an over-obsession sometimes with numbers as a metric because you might have, you might be able to walk around and say I've got 50, 60, 80,000 people on my list, but then it does become the question out of that many are legitimately interested in what they're getting from you?

And then again to your point, how do you know that? And so when you're taking that extra care to really provide content or provide communication that is resonating and connecting with your people from a place of value - that you're going to see those type of responses like you're getting.

Scott: And I would assume too that that almost inspires you to work harder and come up with new ways to generate that response so you're always knowing that what you're doing is providing that type of value to your audience.

Kristin: Yeah, so I talked about yesterday providing value being very important and also the deep connection. So when you have that those, that combination of the two, that's just super powerful, and it really does help you kind of up your game a little bit, right? Because you're then focused on, "How can I really help this person?" - that I'm, I'm trying to reach, and then you start to really think of the one person, right? Like, you get you can get really intimate with that person inside your content, on your episodes, in your news e-mail newsletter...however you choose to communicate with them and foster that journey with them. You just can really tap into that intimacy that the podcasting supports.

Scott: Yeah, and you know, I know that the context here has been podcasting, but I really think that this really relates to any type of content or any type of form of communication you're putting out there hoping it connects with somebody else. And one of the other things that you talked about was leaving that perfect version of yourself behind before you start making those attempts to connect, because sometimes, and it's really easy to do because you know you want if you're a thought leader or you're in business, or you're, or you have a business, you have that thought, "Well, I need to look this way. I can't make mistakes." I can't say, you know, "I can't do this, that and the other."

But at the same time, if you work so hard on that, you become, as you point out, unrelatable when the whole point of this is being relatable. It's almost like if you make yourself too perfect visually or in a piece of content - even on an audio standpoint that you almost become something that you'd almost be afraid to reach out to because you've got this, you know this -it's almost like a perfect entity that has a voice versus a person who's really trying to connect with you and help you out.

Kristin: Yeah, so I think I mentioned as well, like when you can start out as flawed, it's going to make your job so much easier because you will be relatable to people first of all.

And then you're not gonna disappoint people, right? Because you've come as you are and your full, flawed human self, which is all of us, right? And you're not hiding behind this sort of palatable version. You're not hiding behind a "perfect version," which perfection really is a barrier to connection because you're not letting people see the real you. You're letting them see a version of you.

And that's not really what people need. People need to feel like, "Oh, they get me because they've gone through the same missteps or mistakes that I have." And then you can inspire them by showing them how you've overcome those mistakes or that we've all will go through in our journeys, and you can show them what's possible, right? And that's really powerful when people can see themselves reflected, you know, back to them through your imperfect story.

That's what's going to create that connection.

Scott: The other interesting thing about that is one of the things that sometimes people will say is the reason they're not putting out this type of content is because it takes so long. And one of the things that can most certainly take you forever is if you are doing a podcast or a video that provides some insight to people on LinkedIn and you're on take 37 because you're like, "Nope, that wasn't perfect. I gotta do it again."

Record this, this, this next thing again. So, you know, probably saves you some time to not have to obsess so much about how perfect something is.

Kristin: Yeah, absolutely. And so this morning someone said...Get it done or it's good enough to put out," or something along those lines. And it's like, yeah, you have to just put it out there at some point and not, you know, hold yourself back.

So. Like, it'll help you and your community in the long run because they'll actually get content from you eventually.

Scott: Yeah, and I think, you know, when you start talking about the vulnerability, which obviously and understandably from a human perspective on paper, sounds terrifying. Especially for trying to put yourself in that thought leadership position. You think, "I can't, I can't show flaws because I'm trying to position myself as the expert. If I show that I've made a mistake, then I'm less of an expert." But The thing is that's that's us thinking about us and not thinking about them.

And I think what's being proved here in your experience and other people's experience is, you know, there's just a vulnerability, and again, humanity there that really speaks louder than anything from a context of what I see myself as, really resonating with the audience and another thing you talk about too that I thought was really good was sharing things in broader content that you wouldn't necessarily share on social media.

Some stories about some things you've been through and in longer form content, but then you've also talked about sharing shorter stories. Not everything has to be a multi-layered narrative from Lord of the Rings. It can be a short story that really you know gives someone a takeaway. And even if those stories may look like from a business or like a self-version of things to be negative, there's probably a positive spin in there that you're not aware of.

I think about an episode of The Profit that I watched back when Marcus Lemonis was doing The Profit, and there was this company that was a family business, and it was a dad and his two kids that had this business. And one of the things Marcus kept asking was, "Well, what's the story? What's what's the story of your family? How did you all get here?" And they're like, "We can't talk about that." It's like, "What, why can't you talk about that?"

And the story was their dad, who had been in business for years, was fired and had to move back home. And to help him, they left their jobs to come open this business for their dad to help him because now his livelihood was completely changed. And in their mind, the fact that their dad was fired was the negative they couldn't share without realizing this whole story of a family to come coming together after circumstances beyond their control was actually a good story.

And I'm sure that there are elements of that when when you're really focusing and telling people to show that vulnerability but also share stories, those are the type of moments you may not even realize in your stories, but somebody else gets from them.

Kristin: Yeah, you know, we all have hundreds of stories that we can tell, thousands of experiences that we can rely on or pull, you know, to create meaningful stories. It's really about creating those meaningful stories to build community. And I mentioned in my talk that storytelling, it's not about the storyteller, right? It's about connection and a few ways to tap into those stories that build connection are talking about. Those moments where you become transformed, you that have really changed you like the example that you gave, I mean that's a life-changing event that happened.

And then I, I hear so many little tiny stories in that big story, right? And so you can parse out, you know, these big events that happen to you and also the small moments are important too. I talked about how, you know, we have a lot of epic stories being presented to us, right? But we don't always know someone who's gone through the big highs and the and the and lows. And so those smaller stories are important as well, especially in creating those relatable connections.

The meaningful stories are the transformation. There are times where you had to be brave, you know, times where you had followed your heart, times where you had breakthroughs in your life, where you're like, "Oh, I got to my next level. Or maybe I stopped thinking that thing that wasn't serving me. There's so much power and storytelling in general, but in terms of like connection, that's one of the best ways to really share similar stories and help people feel like they're seeing and like, "Oh, this is what's possible for me because I see that." You know, I see the example of it.

Scott: You've provided some really good insight on what you can define as value - value as a word. We hear a lot, but can you talk about a couple of things when you talk about those, those moments where you tried these things out, where you showed something that at what phase in your life you thought, "I can't do this," but then you did, and then the results you've seen and and why that's now driving you to tell others to do the very same thing in order to be able to see this type of success and their content and their business,

Kristin: Yeah. I think one of the most common things that most of us feel is imposter syndrome. And I have felt that in so many different areas, especially starting my podcast and using my voice, it's like, "Oh gosh," and it's really around, you know, pushing outside of your comfort zone and taking care of yourself while you do it right, giving yourself that support, finding support around you.

And so like, that's a short story that I share with my community because first of all, I know that they can relate and know everyone understands what that's like. And then I'm giving them that, you know, kind of inside, behind the screen, peek at like, oh, this is what it's like to face a fear and then go through it. And this is how I've supported myself, and this is the result on the other side. Like three years later. I'm a podcaster. I'm speaking at a podcasting conference.

Like, this isn't just available to me. This is what's available to you. And so that's the other thing that's important is that while these stories are my stories, they're to serve and provide value to my listener. It's like all about or my client or my audience member or whoever is consuming my content. It's like, "Let me share this experience so that you get that value from it." I also talk about perfectionism. Being a recovering perfectionist like I know so many, especially women, I think have a lot of pressure on us to kind of be flawless, and they we are held to high standards. And so I like talking about that to help other women know you can do show up and be in perfect and that's perfectly okay.

This is what it looks like. I can give you an example of what it looks like. Someone who is shedding those ideas and choosing a different path and like, look, I'm okay and actually, I'm thriving.

Scott: Yeah, and this is what I think is a really good example of, you know, and you kind of brought this up before talking about approaching this content instead of transactional, but as a means of connection. And really when you say, "Well, how do I do that?" Well, I mean in a lot of ways there's not a whole other options other than to be more of yourself because if you're in that transactional mindset, that's when you're you're thinking I have to have all like these sales pitch type ideas perfectly layered in a way that's going to, you know, end with the transaction.

Nowadays, you really have to have someone connect with you and believe you because there's so many others out there that are still communicating with that transactional message, but you come out still trying to solve the same problem - and by showing that vulnerability and having more of a conversation and connection with someone, there's so little room for anybody to see that and go, "She's just trying to win that transaction," and instead going, "Wow, she's really opening up." And then by the time it's done, you've still shared the same thought. You've still shared the same insight. But now they trust you more because they saw that you were more interested in what this was going to do for me than how it might be negatively impacting you or maybe your goal of transaction.

Kristin: Yeah, that transactional piece, I mean, even the word, I think I get a little like, I want to lean away from it. Right? And I think that's what all of us feel like. We hate feeling that sense of someone's trying to get something from me.

And so when you take that component out of it, you know, and you just show up with the intent, so much of what we do is intentional, right?

And we have to have our, you know, going back to our values, you know, drive how we show up. And I just think that building that trust like you talked about, that's kind of the only way you can do it when people feel like you really do have their best interest at heart and you're not trying to get anything from them, and you're not trying to like, trick them and you really do want to provide something that's going to help them live their lives better or have a better day even.

You know, sometimes I'll post. Things are just purely motivational, and it's like if I can amp up someone's day, that makes me feel good and it's like a win-win. So, you know, just putting things out there that are simply meant to help others is just a great such a great way to build trust.

Scott: Yeah. And then the transactions come on their own. Proof of that is because I'm sitting here talking to you and you have a business, and this is what you're doing, right? So it's not like, you know that that hasn't been proven as well. And with that, I was trying to think about another component of this.

We already talked at the very beginning about how you had kind of this approach, and then you evolved, and now you obviously share some of the ways you've achieved this up to this point, of course. I'm sure you would say you're still learning like I'm still learning in so many of us. Never really quit learning, especially as quickly as things change any more. But if someone's listening and they're like, "You know what? Thanks to Kristin, I have a little more understanding of what the value means, how these other things come. I want to stop what I'm doing, like she did, or you know, change what I'm doing like she did." What should I start with?

When you think about some of those initial changes you make that you can look back on now and say, "When I made this change and this change that is still working for me today." If someone's wondering what some of those initial changes can be to evolve to kind of in this similar situation where you are now, what would you possibly advise them?

Kristin: Well, I would say stop doing what everyone else is doing. Stop looking to other people to inform. Maybe inform is not the right word, but drive how you approach your content, creating your content. I think I know. For me, when I first started, I was looking for the blueprint and what I realized is that I had to create my own path. And it's not to say that following people who do marketing is, you know, not important. Definitely look at that and get inspiration. But ultimately you got to follow your own compass.

And you have to do what feels good to you. And I think a lot of us are, I think as a society we're not necessarily encouraged to check in with ourselves and to trust our guts, our gut. I think there are a lot of things out there that distract us, are intended to distract us. And so I would say a lot of my "success" is from trusting myself.

And so the more I started to do that, the more it showed up in my content, right? I was starting to do things that felt good, that felt genuine, that felt authentic. And that's so much of what drives building community, right? And that's where I really started to see it transform. It's like letting go of what other people were doing and feeling the pressure to do that and just trusting myself and that I knew my audience, my clients.

And so that takes me to the next thing is just like listening more. Like listening more to what their problems are, what their challenges are and how can I then come in and be that solution and provide the transformation that they're looking for. So I think those are really two great places to start is essentially trust your gut and listen more.

Scott: Great, and if someone doesn't already have it, you really should put "Follow your own compass" on a T-shirt. I mean, because the other thing that I think makes that all relevant is you were talking about not focusing so much on how other people are doing it and thinking I've gotta completely copy that or do justmy own kind of tweaked version of that. Because the other thing I think that people start obsessing over when they focus on that is they have it in their head, "Well, that's the way it's successful. If I were to do it my own way, it's probably not going to work."

You have to do it like that. And then what's interesting is, like you said, when you get that moment where you trust yourself because don't you think that also fits into the impostor syndrome too? You know, my way isn't good enough, so I got to do it Fred's way or Mary's way over here, when really we haven't given ourselves a chance to demonstrate our take, our expertise. And the only way we're going to convey that is our way and the way we see it and the way we use it to help others. And it seems like that would take a lot of pressure off everything you're doing because you're just naturally talking about what you know, and you're naturally wanting to help someone out in the process. Kristin: Yeah, you said pressure, and that lands with me because I remember feeling when I was trying to replicate those marketing strategies, it felt like kind of like a pressure cooker, like, like this constriction, right? And that's another way that people can start to know whether or not they're on the right path. It's like if you're feeling tense about something, it's probably not what you should be, or maybe we're meant to be doing.

But when I started to feel, like, relaxed and, like, open and, like, this was fun. It's like, oh, that's the path I should be following. That's how I know that this is going to work. And then it's working, right? Like, people are responding to me in the right way. It's like the people who I want to respond to me are responding to me right because, like, I'm attracting the right people with my energy like so much of what we do is energy, right? And like what we put out there. You talked about evolving. And I just think that's so important as well on all parts of your journey, It's like my coach says, "All parts of yourself are welcome," right? So the things that you're like, "Oh, I tried that. That didn't work." The things, the parts of you that are like, "I crushed it. I'm amazing," just like embracing all of that and then sharing that out, I think with there are so many personal stories that contain your universal truths. And so that was another thing that I incorporated into my strategy was like, "Okay, how can I tap into those?" And so that other people can, you know, really resonate. My favorite moments of podcasting is where I'm like, "Oh, I have nothing in common with this person I'm listening to."

Being interviewed like, "Oh, they grew up across the country, and they're, you know, this way maybe they're an Ivy League something," and then in their story, they'll say something, and it's like, "I experienced that. Oh my gosh. I had that experience. I had no idea."

And that gives me goosebumps. And those are like the special moments where you're like, "This is amazing," at least for me. And so that's kind of what I'm trying to replicate in my content. That same feeling of like, "Oh, we are connected. What a surprise or what a delight, or what great feeling to know that I'm just one of someone else's experience the same thing." Scott: It's interesting how, you know, we were just talking a second ago about if you're not obsessed with that perfection, you're probably going to save yourself a lot of time. And as we just said, pressure when you're creating that content because there's so many reasons why people say they're not doing this, and sometimes they're kind of getting in their own way. I mean, it's easy to say things like we still need to go get a microphone and we still need to get a camera. That's one thing - but these other things are just almost purely mental, and I was in a session today where someone talked about writing a book and how writing a book got them opportunities to do speaking engagements, which up to that point, they've never done it before. And so it was kind of terrifying. You know, now they're being asked to come speak, and they don't do it, but she said the thing that changed how nervous she would get when she'd get up and speak is again, very much like what we just talked about, she quit thinking about herself because the thing that made her nervous is, "What are these people gonna think of me? Are they going to think I'm credible?" The imposter syndrome thing again, "All I've done is write the book. Is that enough to be good enough to stand on the stage?"

And she said, once I quit thinking about that and I started focusing more on how I'm going to get on stage and help somebody. The nerves were gone.

And I think when we talk about that perfectionism and that comfort zone and being you and having your take on it and come from an angle of I'm not going to worry. Because that's the other you're almost worried about - you might have 50 people in the room that think what you're saying is great. You can't worry if one or two in their back going, "No, this isn't for me," because there's always going to be those people, and it's fine.

But when people say, "I don't know if I could be on a podcast because I'm not, you know, I'm not a broadcaster," and we say, well, that's one of the things people generally like about this is you're not talking like a broadcaster. Or "I can't do video because I'm, I'm not good on video." But if you, if you're good at talking to people, if you've had a conversation with a person, if you've ever taken 2 minutes out of your life to say, "Hey, I think you should do this," then tapping into that is probably one of the things that's going to really help you be able to do all these things that you kind of know you should be doing. But you can kind of get out of your own way to do it and do it well, and then you're going to see very similar results to yours.

Kristin: Yeah, and you know, this conference that we're at right now, this was my first conference speaking and so I definitely was feeling some, you know, stuff come up and things kind of land with me when I need them to and just randomly opened up Instagram and someone had posted - and you know what if? questions are always really powerful - So the question was, "What if what you have to say is exactly what someone needs to hear?" And like that kind of shifted everything for me. And it's like you were saying similarly - it takes the focus off of you, right? And it's about who you're potentially impacting and knowing that also, like you said, it's not gonna land with 100% of people, but that's not your concern, right? Your concern is only it landing with the people who it needs to land with, right? And that even if it's one person that's important like that is beyond valuable.

And so just remembering that you know, like, you can impact people. That might be one person at a time. But that's fine. That's okay. That's still important.

Scott: And if you're doing it right, they're probably going to tell others who they know, think like them, "Hey, you need to look at this or check out this thing or go look up this person."

Kristin: Exactly. It goes back to the very beginning of quality over quantity, right?

Scott: Absolutely. Well, Kristen, thank you so much for sharing your insights today on your first conference speaking engagement. So thank you so much for your time. Kristin: Thank you, Scott.

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