It can be challenging to make co-hosting fun and harmonious, especially when there are more than two! Tracy Hazzard sits with Julie Lokun, the Co-Founder of The Mediacasters. Julie shares with Tracy how practicing with each other can do wonders. Agree on signals that will help your co-hosts understand whose turn it is to speak. Create a safe space for everyone to be vulnerable to share their stories. Don’t hesitate to hire editors to give you confidence that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Join the conversation for more practical tips on how to make co-hosting fun!
Watch the episode here
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This Host Will Give You Insider Tips On How To Make Co-Hosting Fun And Harmonious With Julie Lokun Of Obsessed (With Humans On The Verge Of Change) Podcast
I have the other half of the Mediacasters team. I told you when we interviewed Corinna Bellizzi that I was going to have Julie Lokun on and I have her in this episode. I’m obsessed with her show called Obsessed (With Humans on The Verge of Change). I love that. It’s such a great title and so well done. She has the complexity of multiple hosts in the whole thing. It’s going to be fascinated to talk with her about that show, the mission and what she’s doing with Mediacasters along with Corinna. I’m excited to bring her to you. Let’s get on with it.
Julie Lokun is the Cofounder of Mediacasters, the omni-media company providing tools for underserved entrepreneurs through podcasting, publishing and presenting. Julie is the podcast host of two podcasts, Obsessed and The Mediacasters, which both enjoy global rankings. As Founder of the Mediacasters Publishing House, Julie uses her unique brand of relationship-building to launch new writers and take them to bestsellers.
Her love for writing and business development was married in her entrepreneurial series, Hustle Smart, which reached number one on Amazon. Julie’s passion for advocacy and business development was born out of a desire to amplify the voices of those making an impact. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband, four sons and our sidekick, Violet, a French bulldog. I love people who do podcasts with their dogs. Mine is usually at my feet. She’s locked out of the room because she can’t behave herself. I’m so excited to bring Julie Lokun on so let’s get to it.
Julie, thanks so much for joining me. I’m obsessed with podcasting like you are but with Obsessed, your show, what made you want to start a podcast about that?
Tracy, it was a dare. I had no idea what podcasting was. We kept getting asked to be on different podcasts and my cohost on Obsessed was like, “Julie, we have to do a show.” I said, “Why not? Let’s do a show.” It’s simple as that.
You have two cohosts. There’s a trio here. Is that complicated? Did it make it harder to get started?
It was very complicated. We had four cohosts at the beginning. I don’t know any other podcasts that have four cohosts at the beginning. We were like The Beatles but we didn’t know how people would understand who was talking and what we were talking about. It could get confusing. We had to practice so much up to when we launched our podcasts. We did a couple of months of practice to figure out how we would even go about this.
It’s amazing you even thought of it. I have it happened where you have two women cohosts and they don’t even realize their voice sounds so similar to the listener.
We understood that it would be confusing. In the beginning, we thought that we would create almost characterizations of ourselves to amplify what we’re each speaking about. We have an attorney who is me, a holistic nutritionist, a therapist and a self-esteem expert. Amplifying our characters would be the way to go. It morphs into whatever the show is going to morph into. We take the lead of our guests as well.
When you started it, did you have a goal?
Nothing. It was on a dare. We knew it was an extension of what we were doing in our professional lives, helping others obtain their best life and think a little bit differently about how they do their days. There was no goal or monetization. We were so green and new. We had no idea of the power of podcasting and how in the first year, it changed the trajectory of everything we were doing.Build a community around your podcast. Click To Tweet
In what way did it change things for you?
People who never would have given us the time of day and I’m not saying that to slight anyone but there would be no reason to have a conversation with a lot of these people. All of a sudden, we were sitting in the same studio as these people. I would ask style people like Dr. Laura Berman, who’s a love, sex and relationship expert on the Oprah Winfrey network. She was like, “I’ll be on your podcast. No problem.” I was like, “What? Why is she talking to us?” We were having such prolific conversations with people that blew our minds. I knew there was something then. At that moment, when people were saying yes to us to have these conversations, everything changed.
You’re on this show, so somewhere along that way, you must have found out you had binge listeners, people who are joining your show as listeners, listening to everything you had and going back to episodes. When did you realize that?
It was maybe six months in when I started getting random messages, emails or people getting engaged in the show. It blew my mind because, beyond that, people are listening to our podcast in the Philippines, Africa, Europe and South America. I could not believe our voices had reached those levels.
That was one of the fascinating things for me too. It’s like, “You’re listening to all our episodes? We did 100.” That’s fantastic though that you came to that place. Did you find that the logistics of setting up the show, getting it started and figuring all of that out were easy for you? You had four of you, in the beginning, to split up the work. Did you find that was an easier path for you?
There always has to be a leader, Tracy. I took that lead. For some reason, they all tucked me into it and then I was the one that took the lead. The sound quality was off on a lot of our audio. I took it upon myself to buy the girls’ mics and we worked on it. I did not want to do a half-crap show. I wanted to do it with quality. Even though we didn’t know what we were doing exactly, I wanted to make sure that we did it right. We did hire a producer to help us in the initial stages and that was very helpful. Is it cringe-worthy listening to your very first episode like, “I can’t believe I sound like that or I said that?” It’s an evolution but first and foremost, make sure that the audio is decent.
You’ve got one of those shows where you do have some of those early cringe-worthy and we all have them. Let’s face it but our audience still listens so don’t get rid of them. Don’t get perfectionist about them or rerecord them. Leave them there because your growth matters too. Listening to your show, there’s such a nice rapport between you and your cohosts. There’s this nice balance of it. It’s not a competition for asking questions, which you think that it might turn into. It’s like, “I’ve got this expert. I want to ask all the questions,” and someone dominates the conversation. It naturally flows. Is that planned or does that happen naturally?
Very naturally but we use the mic method meaning everyone’s muted on the podcast. When somebody unmutes, we know that they’re the next one to speak. It made it very easy. It took a while and then we’d all be staring at each other. There would be silence. I’d be like, “We got to cut the silence out.” Knowing that there’s an editor behind you, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Messy is beautiful. That is something that we’ve embraced in terms of being vulnerable in the stories that we do share. If you do it messy, it’s okay.
Let’s talk a little bit about some of the things that you found. You mentioned being so surprised that guests wanted to be on your show and you’re at that high level. How do you go about deciding as a team on who’s going to be a guest, getting those great guests, going out there and doing the ask?
We are looking for those stories and working in alignment with the Brené Brown book, Atlas of the Heart, which we’re obsessed with. It’s finding those real poignant stories and experts in their field. People that have a story who can change the lives of our audiences are all that matters and what I keep focused on. We’re asking all these different people.
It does not matter if you have 1 million followers on your Instagram account because I have had my most success with our guests by people that have an engaged audience around them, even if it’s 100, 200 or 500 people. Find those guests that have a tried and true engaged audience that would do anything for them. They’ll listen to anything that’s posted or shared. We do engage guest who has an engaged audience around them.
Do you invite more people than you expect to the show and record the pace? How do you logistically handle that? There are three of you who may be going out there and asking. You can end up with too many guests.
That’s never a problem. You work out a cadence after doing this for some time. I have not proclaimed myself as a leader but there has to be a leader. I’m at the forefront of finding people and curating people. My other cohost, Tia and Mika, are helpful. They all have their special niche. I love to talk to people that I have never had a conversation with or have no idea what their expertise is on because I’m always learning something as well.
There’s a cadence that makes us balanced. If my cohosts are obsessed with something, I become obsessed with it and also with all my guests. When I become obsessed with them, I always tell them, “I am going to become obsessed with you in a healthy way, not in a stalkerish way.” That’s where the magic is for me, at least with these relationships that I’ve built with the guests and the show. That was the surprise that blew me away.
Your audience is an important component as well. How do you increase your audience and get more engagement from those audiences?
In the beginning, I was pumping up a lot of episodes weekly, 3 to 4 weeks. I would do minisodes, which are daily doses of inspiration. We are self-improvement podcasts. It’s those smaller little spurts between our big interviews once a week. I did see growth happen. I did see growth gradually happen as we were doing those little minisodes between our major episodes. Also, engaging and always asking for our audience to rate, review and subscribe.You are the sum of the five people you surround yourself with. Click To Tweet
If I read your review on air, I’m going to send you some swag. I have swag. We will send you a mug, a hoodie or something along those lines. Engage with them and ask them to share on your Instagram page like, “DM us on our Instagram page. Tell us what you want to hear and if you’re struggling with this situation.” It is a great way. It’s so surprising when we do hear from people. It blows my mind that we have this effect through the platform of podcasting.
That personal touch makes a difference in the way that you engage because I’ve watched your social. We’re connected. That’s how we met. I love how you do connect with that. I want to shift a little bit into your community because this is the path. My next question is usually about monetization but here, I want to shift a little bit. Honestly, you’re embarking on a whole new venture, which seems to have come down to podcasting.
Mediacasters has its network under the Mighty Networks and I love the way that you engage with the community every day. I get the newsletter every evening. It catches me up when I miss it. I’m always checking out what Julie has to say like, “What’s going on over there?” It posts it right there. It keeps me engaged even if I’m not actively engaging in the community.
There’s an interesting dynamic where we may not even know the passive engagement that we’re receiving like, “Julie said, I’m going to have to go back and check it out.” They then come back into our communities and engage and that’s happening for you. Let’s talk a little about Mediacasters. When did that start where you spun off from the saying, “I’m so obsessed with podcasting. Not just my show but I’m ready to do another one and a whole network in the process?”
It’s such a fascinating story. My background is in journalism and writing. I then became a lawyer and was like, “I’m not sure if I should be a lawyer.” I then did this and that. I always knew I loved communication and the ability to write and share, so I opened a publishing company. That was a fantastic experience for me. I then started podcasts.
You probably can tell that whatever’s put in front of me, I do it, except jumping out of an airplane. I’ve not done that and I don’t think I’m going to do that. I had this passion for writing, publishing and also podcasting and speaking. I knew there was something that entrepreneurs needed. You get to a point where you are spinning your wheels. You write a book but no one reads it. You have a podcast but no one’s listening. You want to speak on stage but you don’t know how to do that. This was a pain point for a lot of entrepreneurs and creatives.
I met Corinna Bellizzi and one day, she said, “We’re going to do something someday.” Subsequently, months later, we were talking and both agreed on how difficult it is to use your voice to make an impact on the world, especially for creatives and entrepreneurs. We did it. We’re building a community around our podcast. Our podcast and Mediacasters are just one arm of our community. We also have a Meetup. It’s like so old.
I’m always trying to think outside the box. I went on to the computer and was like, “I’m going to check out Meetup and make a group called the Secrets of Podcasting.” I didn’t check it for a month and when I looked, there were 200 people signed up for this group. I’m like, “We have to do something.” That speaks to the need to build a community where we can be of service and give people the tools that we know from what we’ve done before.
How is it juggling two shows?
It’s easy. How about you?
I’ve got eight, so I know.
It’s a lot. It’s your passion. When it’s your purpose, you don’t get burnout. You can have all those rejections, go into the fade and hit the bumps in the road but it’s okay because if you’re aligned with your purpose, then nothing else matters.
How are you finding the response from the community?
We love it and there is something about it. Every time we have office hours or a Meetup group, we have such a great group. The magic is when they start communicating with themselves. Corinna and I don’t have to facilitate the conversation. That’s the power and we’re starting to see that. We need help at the beginning but we push them a little bit like Lil Mama.
I do want to talk about your binge factor because this is why we’re here. I get to do a little psychoanalysis of my own, although I have no training in that but I do have a lot of training and listening to podcasts, interviewing and doing all of that. That is my experience here. Both on Mediacasters and Obsessed, what I see from you is this amazing collaboration in action.
That’s what you do so well. It’s so inspiring to me to see women collaborating in such a fantastic and powerful way. You’re doing it with this high level of intelligence and heart. Those two things are combining into what is making all of the shows that you’re participating in, which are fantastic. Thank you so much for making your binge factor about collaboration.Find people to connect with who understand and who have gone before you. Click To Tweet
You’re welcome. I don’t think I could do it alone. Even speaking here about myself, I get a little nervous because I don’t like talking about myself. People would probably think that’s ridiculous but have strong women around you. You are the total of the five people you surround yourself with. I’m very particular. Having those people that are strong when I’m weak is something that uplifts me every day. It’s accountability too. You can’t blow off a recording. You got to get it done.
What advice do you have for those that are still on the fence about podcasting out there?
Stop overthinking. Do it. You have a voice. Don’t do it for the money or listenership. Do it for you and your mission and purpose. Do it because you know you’re meant for more. When we overthink, we stop in our tracks. We become our worst enemy and disengage. Don’t think so much about it. It’s fun. You can do it for a relatively low price point but find those people to connect with that understand and have gone before you.
I would be remiss because you brought her up before not to ask another powerful woman in the industry. What are your thoughts about what’s going on with Brené Brown in the Spotify situation? For those of you who don’t know, I’m going to catch up a little bit quickly here and then we’ll get Jul’s opinion on this.
Brené Brown was very upset by all of Joe Rogan’s comments and all different things. She decided that she would pause her show on Spotify to regroup, get in with the Spotify leadership, understand what was going on and find out what her options were. She then posted a blog about a week later that said she was unhappy about the idea that she had to do what she needed to do. She can’t disassociate her brand from Spotify and Joe Rogan.
There’s no possibility for her to do that because she’s under contract but she’s there for her audiences and she’s going to keep going with her show. It seemed like she came back to podcasting a little under duress, unfortunately for her. What are your thoughts about that? You have an attorney background on top of it, so I bet you have some statements about contracts that people should know about.
That’s the first thing I thought of though. I knew she was bound by quite a nice juicy contract. While she was making her stand and using her voice, I felt she was strong-armed that she had to continue. Her attorneys probably told her she had to continue because there was no way out of this. I admire her for taking a stand and differentiating her voice from everyone else’s. When you’re doing things for money, it’s great but it screws up a lot of things. She is a beacon in terms of showing us, as podcasters, that you can do what you want to do but you also have a voice, what you’re doing, where you’re doing it and with whom. She didn’t like Joe Rogan. I don’t know why.
You’re so obsessed with her book and everything. It’s on my bedside table. I haven’t gotten to it yet. I know Atlas of the Heart. It sounds great. I haven’t had moments because I was so busy.
Read it through. It’s almost a reference book.
Could I pick it up and not see it? I’m a read-through girl. When I do it, I’m going to sit down and two hours later, I’ll be done with my book. It’s good to know. Maybe I’ll have to pick it up and start dabbling in it then. Tell me why you’re so fascinated and obsessed with it.
She’s done such prolific research on the 30 core emotions. This is a reference book. I asked her to be on the podcast and she said no.
She may have to because you’re selling books here.
Brené, I carry this route. It’s not light either. It’s a reference book. Tracy, I want to ask you a question. How are you feeling? Do you feel like things are uncertain? Do you feel like you’re comparing yourself or things don’t go as planned? Are things different than they seem? Where are you? Do you feel like you’re falling short or searching for connection? Is your heart open or is life good? Pick one.
I’m energized because it’s one of those days where I get to connect to a ton of people, so I love that. That’s my energized day.
You are all about connections. Connection speaks to belonging. Chapter nine is about places we go when we search for connections. It gives you the different emotions like belonging, fitting in, connection, disconnection, insecurity, invisibility and loneliness. It goes the gamut and then you can refer to that. Understanding that you’re not alone when you’re feeling connected, disconnected, overjoyed or in despair, it’s an amazing reference book and an easy read. You can read it through but I find it something that I refer to all the time. It’s sitting right next to me.
I have a Louise Hay’s book on my bedside table and that is one of those. I’m a big reader. I used to read 300 books a year. Louise Hay has always been on my bedside table because there’ll be this occasion where I’ll want to flip through it and go to a chapter that I know. You have these things like your Bible right next to your bedside, whatever it is that you need to energize you. Let’s talk quickly before we go about publishing. I want to touch on your publishing business and what you’re doing there. You’re passionate about books.
For me, I’m this giant reader and I have yet to publish my book. I have gotten it that far but it’s been in final editing for a long time. It’s one of those things where when you’re such a fan of the printed media like I am, it makes it more daunting. What advice do you have for that? How does your publishing business work?Don't do the podcast for the money. Don't do it for the listenership. Do it for you, your mission, and your purpose. Do it because you're meant for more. Click To Tweet
We’re a baby publisher. I’m going to preface that. The onus for it was that I had a lot of authors as clients. I saw them for all their heart, love, joy, sorrow and everything in this manuscript. They would be sending out queries to, let’s say, 600 publishers and then we got no response. I was like, “Something has to be done differently.” First of all, I would go into a deep depression if I wrote this beautiful 600-page novel and it just was dismissed. There has to be a way to do it and we have KDP, which is the Amazon self-publishing software. It has made it easy and people throw stuff up there as well unedited. It’s crazy.
Number one rule, you have to have an editor because I can tell right away if you didn’t have your book edited. Even editors need editors, coaches need coaches, therapists need therapists but I saw such an inequity. What we’re doing is we’re promoting authors who have empowering words. We’re educating and entertaining positive, focused books, as well as we are trying to do the same for authors and give them all the tools. If you want to self-publish, these are the tools that you need to be able to do this correctly, so do it right.
That’s so interesting you said the word promote because so often you think, “I’m going to get a publisher that’s going to help me promote my book.” Promotion isn’t anywhere in the contract and there’s nothing there about promotion.
You’re promoting. If you’re a traditional publisher and I don’t know what route you’re going to go if you’re going to self-publish, you are your brand. Tracy Hazzard is her brand. Establish your brand. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You don’t need to have 1,000 or 10,000 followers on Instagram. It does not matter. When was the last time you bought a book on Instagram?
For me, never. That’s not how it works.
It’s about creating your brand and getting those people to speak. Podcasting is an amazing way. I encourage authors. I hate to pigeonhole or stereotype but I see fiction authors having problems with their abilities to speak and promote themselves. It’s so necessary.
I see non-fiction authors do that too. Some of my worst interviews were with authors because they were just like, “Read my book.” Podcasting is such a giving media. We need to share a lot here, tell stories and expand on them. I will naturally want more. You don’t have to hawk the book. I want to learn and like you and then I will buy the book.
We’re going to get you on a book tour. You’re going to go on the media junket, podcasts and press releases. It’s not about social media. It’s about expanding your voice, doing book clubs, going on social audio and everywhere that not everyone has gone. As an author, you are your brand. The easy part is writing your book. The hard part is keeping it alive, unfortunately.
I love the way you said that. It’s keeping that book alive after you publish it. That is so amazing viewpoint of it. I am still looking forward to talking with you further about that and we’ll have to do that.
I’m so excited that you’re writing a book. Do you have a working title for your book?
My team is all debating on the title because it’s a how-to podcast book. It’s not exciting in terms of that. We’re doing the debate about, “Is it going to do better digitally because it has a basic title or is it going to do better because it has a catchy title?”
A catchy title and then subtitle that is SEO rich.
That’s where we’re leaning. We’ll see where it ends up but it’s getting close. If I had a name in front of me, I’d share it with you but I don’t because the team is still working on it. This is a group effort. It is not only my book. We had all of our entire team contribute to the chapters from the company because I’m not the expert in intro/outro music. What do I know about music? I know we have it and you should have it but beyond that, what else am I supposed to say about it?
We had our team have some input. The team who chooses music day in and day out gives us some do’s and don’ts. It was awesome. We’ve got the whole company involved in building the book, which is unusual. Unfortunately, we can’t list everybody on it, so it’s going to be under my byline and Tom’s byline but we did write 90% of it.
Why not how create a binge-worthy podcast?
The main title that we’re leaning towards is Binge-Worthy, the whole line and the rest of it. Frankly, this show came out of the fact that I was repeating that so often in our previous show, so we did a spinoff for it. Why not do that with a book too? We’re going to put the book into 2 pieces, so it’s 2 books. One is on the front setup side and the others are on the marketing and promotion side. We separated it so that if you’re already an existing podcaster, you’d be able to pick up that book and still get that detailed information without having to read the whole setup side.
You’re already an expert. We all know this but it gives you that extra cachet of being an author. I’m over exaggerating but the fact that you’re an author and a podcaster, you can’t beat that. You love to speak as well. It’s that perfect trifecta, the three Ps.
Who knew I was going to get advice here on the show? I’m so grateful to you. I love it. That’s the fascinating part about podcasters. I love that they have such give and take. Both of your shows are fantastic but Obsessed is something for people to take a listen to. Check out the way that you do it. It’s an incredibly great model. The collaboration and dynamic interaction between all of the cohosts and the guest are fantastic. Great work, Julie. Thank you so much for coming to the show and sharing that with us. We look forward to hearing more about Mediacasters as we go forward.
You know you are because we love ourselves some Podetize. Thank you.
Thanks so much.
It’s so much fun when I get to talk with someone who can trip into, “Let’s talk about the industry and what’s going on in podcasting.” I hope that’s not geeking out too much for those audience members out there who don’t have shows yet. It’s good for you to have this eye-opening view of what the industry is like and what’s going on in that. I’m working on a new show on that side.
I can’t wait to get input and views from other people like Julie Lokun, Corinna Bellizzi, Marion Abrams, which we had on, and many people that we have in our Certified Strategist Program. Those people are going to have great input into the new show that I’m working on. I’m so glad I have these wonderful partners.
I’m also so glad that I can bring you a show where you can get a behind-the-scenes peek at what it’s like to work with three hosts, run multiple shows and start a network so that you can get an idea of what you want to do with everything that you’re doing, where your goals are and what you are doing with podcasting specifically. Julie Lokun with amazing Obsessed (With Humans on The Verge of Change) and The Mediacasters Podcast. You’re not going to want to miss them.
We’re looking forward to bringing you more Mediacasters podcasters. That’s going to be a great conduit for us in the future but I always want to hear from you. How was this episode? What do you think? Should I bring more people like Julie or people from her community? Let me know. Let me also know if you qualify for this show. I’ll be back next time with another Binge Factor episode.
- Corinna Bellizzi – Previous episode
- Obsessed (With Humans on The Verge of Change)
- The Mediacasters
- The Mediacasters Podcast
- Mediacasters Publishing House
- Hustle Smart
- Dr. Laura Berman – Previous episode on Obsessed Podcast
- Atlas of the Heart
- Secrets of Podcasting – Meetup
- Kindle Direct Publishing
- Marion Abrams – Previous episode
- Certified Strategist Program