Throughout Lorraine Sanders‘ decade-plus long career as a fashion journalist and blogger, her goal has been to find and celebrate the really good stuff that fashion has to offer: the ultra-creative people making beautiful things with integrity.
Her experience as a freelancer for outlets including WWD, the San Francisco Chronicle and Fast Company, plus launching two of her own blogs, has led her here: to launching a Podcast called Spirit of 608, focused on F.E.S.T. (fashion, entrepreneurship, tech, sustainability). Sanders just recorded episode 24 with a power Posher, check it out!
Does launching a podcast sound kind of old school for a time (and an industry) where video seems to be king? Or do you find it an odd medium for fashion, which is so visual? Find out why you're thinking about podcasts might be all wrong, how podcasts just may be the future of blogging, and where she got that name in our interview with Sanders below!
1. You have been involved in fashion and other types of journalism for quite a while, why was a Podcast series the logical next step in your career?
“The Spirit of 608 podcast is really the coming together of everything I’ve worked on over the last decade, but it took me a long time to figure out that the audio approach was the best way to use my skills and who I am as a person to get closer to my end goal, which is really to help push fashion into a better place—both for consumers and for the people producing it.
I’ve covered fashion and the intersection of fashion and technology for a number of years, and I’ve been a journalist for more than ten, and I love reporting and covering the news, but I’ve honestly always been more of a cheerleader than a comfortable adversary, and I think you have to be comfortable in that adversarial role if you want to be a really great investigative business journalist. I’m happiest when I can show off really cool, badass things that are happening in the world that I think other people should know about. And I’ve always had the sense that fashion is about much more than just aesthetics. My first blog, SF Indie Fashion, was about indie designers, and it had a loyal readership, and the whole point was to support creative people and get fashion fans to think about the origins of their clothes. And then I had a second blog called Digital Style Digest, and the whole point there was how much technology is changing fashion, and it allowed me to really fawn over some of the entrepreneurs I admire.
Then after a stint working for a fashion and philanthropy startup last year, I fell in love with podcasting and the audio format and how you really feel like you know someone when you hear her speak. It’s a way of producing media that’s super intimate, but fun and creates a real connection with listeners in a very authentic way.
So the Spirit of 608 podcast is the result of all of that, basically poured into one bucket. By the way, if you’re curious about why I called it Spirit of 608, here’s the explanation.
2. What do you think the future looks like for podcasts?
“I think the future for podcasts is huge. Yes, they’ve been around for quite a while, but right now, for me at least, the podcast landscape feels a lot like blogging did back when I started in 2005. There’s a lot of momentum and new tools, services, conferences and other things in the podcasting ecosystem becoming available to help podcasters put out better, more professional shows. But at the same time, it’s still a bit of a Wild West. You can be creative, and people are eager to be on shows as guests because it’s new for them, and there are still so many people out there—especially women—who are not currently listening to podcasts and would love them if they found the right ones. So the potential to build a largely female audience, I think, is significant.
There’s also the monetization piece, something I know a lot of bloggers think about when they consider new ways to grow their audiences. When it comes to brand partnerships, I think the opportunity for brands to connect with audiences over audio is huge. I personally feel like anytime I hear a designer or CEO talk on a podcast, and I listen to a lot of them, I have a connection with them that I don’t get from just reading an interview or seeing an image. In some ways, podcasting about fashion sounds counter-intuitive because fashion and style are visual things, but I feel like the digital world is so noisy right now, and a lot of brands are starting to think about how to connect with new audiences in a real way. And being on podcasts can accomplish that for brands. A lot of startups and tech brands have figured that out, and I think you are only going to see more of that happening and across all kinds of product categories in the not-too-distant future.”
3. Should fashion bloggers consider adding a podcast to their offerings?
“Consider it, definitely. There are a lot of people who want to hear from bloggers. My Spirit of 608 episode with Ramshackle Glam blogger Jordan Reid is my most-listened to show, and I’ve had multiple CEOs of companies with millions in funding on and founders of many popular startups, and that’s the most popular episode of them all.
But when it comes to actually doing it, that depends on whether it makes sense given your goals and the time you have to produce a show. Podcasting is something anyone can do—and you can do it very cheaply from a technical standpoint—but it is time-consuming, and it requires just as much time and attention as a blog.
At the same time, it can be a way to give the people who follow your blog and social media a different type of content that goes beyond—and complements—the visual.”
4. What advice would you give for making podcasts engaging and for getting listeners to come back?
“On blogs and social media, people gravitate toward amazing, inspiring images. On podcasts, listeners gravitate towards information they find valuable in some way and hosts they want to feel connected to. If you feel like a podcast is wasting your time or you don’t really like the host’s voice, you’re probably not going to listen again.
As a host, you can’t change your voice, but you can take pains to put content out that benefits your listeners. I think that’s the most important thing: create value for the people listening. Inform them, motivate them, teach them something. You want your listeners to walk away feeling like their day is better for having listened and that they now know more and can be more effective in their lives because of your show.
On a nuts and bolts level, my advice is to figure out who your ideal listeners are, then determine what kind of really killer information you can give them. What do they want to know about that they can’t find anywhere else? From there, you want to make sure you’re putting out a show that’s enjoyable to listen to: good music, edit out excessive ums and likes, get to the point, keep it to a good show length for your specific audience. And then, like you would with a blog, you want to be consistent with publishing content and keep reevaluating what you’re doing to make sure your shows are the kinds of things your listeners enjoy and want more of.”
5. Does creating a quality podcast require expensive equipment?
“It doesn’t require it, but having a nice microphone can make a huge difference. I started podcasting with a cheap USB microphone I bought on Amazon for around $30. Later, I started using the more expensive Heil PR40 microphone, and I can’t tell you how much of a difference it made in sound quality. It was an incredible difference.”
6. Who is your dream interview?
“So far I’ve been really lucky to have been able to feature a ton of amazing, inspiring dream-guest women on the podcast, including Who What Wear co-founder Katherine Power, Julie Wainwright of The RealReal, Zady co-founder Maxine Bedat, and many others. You can find the full line-up here.
I have a trio of people I am dying to have on the show and working to bring on as guests: Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal, Susan Koger of ModCloth and Yael Aflalo of Reformation. Oh and duh, Stella McCartney.