CAREER

Kristen Meinzer: ‘So You Want to Start a Podcast’

After more than 10 years in podcasting, Kristen Meinzer has a lot of incredible career advice for those looking to get started in the industry. She currently co-hosts By the Book, a comedic reality show/self-help podcast with a feminist spin — and her inspiring new book, So You Want to Start a Podcast, just came out this summer. On Episode 31 of the Coffee Break w/NYWICI podcast, Meinzer talks about how to be a successful podcaster, the importance of networking, and what it’s like to write a book. Here are some key takeaways from her fun conversation with host Julie Hochheiser Ilkovich.

You don’t have to be an unpaid Intern — but you do need to learn how to network. Meinzer, who grew up in Minneapolis in a working-class family, could never afford to take an unpaid internship; she always worked to support herself. “If you can’t do an internship, get out there and talk to people,” she says. But she doesn’t advise asking if you can pick someone’s brain. Instead, “know what you are asking for and what you want to learn from the person.”

Learn how to make coffee (or at least stand near the coffee machine).
Meinzer got some great advice from a coworker at WNYC: “The simplest thing is to learn how to make coffee and talk to the people around the coffee machine. Talk to everyone around you and ask questions.” That strategy has helped Meinzer meet plenty of interesting people in her office — including Bill Nye!

Say “thank you” instead of “I’m sorry.”
We know, this one’s a hot topic for women in the workplace. Meinzer says it’s okay to apologize sometimes — but you don’t need to apologize for everything. “One lesson I learned long ago, is to say thank you instead,” she says. “Thank you for your patience, thank you for meeting up with me. Don’t apologize for being 90 seconds late to a meeting.”

Do your homework before starting a podcast.
Before you begin, you need to ask yourself two questions, according to Meinzer: Why do I want to start a podcast? And who is it for? “In the case of By the Book, we knew we wanted make a funny and feminist podcast that was breaking boundaries,” she says. “We wanted it to be for everyone who ever felt like outsiders.” And remember, she says, that your audience doesn’t have to be huge for your podcast to be successful. After all, the average podcast gets 124 downloads per episode.

Follow your passions. You never know where they’ll take you.
An Anglophile since childhood, Meinzer eventually created the When Harry Met Meghan podcast. And thanks to that show, she ended up flying to England to record the last episode at the Royal Wedding in 2018. “That was one of the most magical moments of my life,” she says, “to be there at Windsor Castle with thousands of others popping champagne.”

Thanks to Kristen Meinzer for being part of the podcast! You can listen to all the episodes of Coffee Break w/ NYWICI here.

—Andrea Goldstein

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