Are you and a co-host ready to start podcasting? It’s one of my personal favorite podcast formats, but before you take the leap and start co-hosting together, you’ll want to make sure you’re both on the same page. 

So in this episode, I’m thrilled to have my Book Smart co-host Em Hammel-Shaver join me to talk about our co-hosting experience and insights. It’s a fun one!

By the end of this episode, you’ll learn…

  • What are the pros and cons to doing a co-hosted podcast?
  • Who is this the right fit for?
  • What topics are well suited for a co-hosted format?
  • What should you and your co-host talk about before you get started?
  • How can you divide responsibilities? 
  • How did we prepare for each episode, and how did our process evolve over time?

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NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by a free AI tool called Otter.ai. Please forgive any typos or errors.

Melissa Guller 0:00
Welcome to Wit & Wire, where we help podcasters create their own shows with raving fans.

I'm your host Melissa Guller. And as an experienced host, producer and teacher, I knew that I wanted to help more diverse podcasters launch amazing shows. So in each episode of Wit & Wire, I invite fellow podcasters and industry experts to share their best tips, resources and strategies for podcasters of all experience levels.

This episode is part of our five part spotlight series on podcast formats. Your format explains how many voices are on your show as well as their purpose. And my goal is to spotlight each podcast format by creating an episode in that format. Today we're spotlighting the CO hosted format, where two to three people host the podcast together as equal partners.

Co hosting has a special place in my heart. And in this episode, I'm so excited to share the mic with one of my favorite people. My Book Smart co host and Emily Hammel-Shaver.

Em Hammel-Shaver 1:00
Hi everyone I'm am I write and design websites for entrepreneurs and I also love leading virtual workshops on self care and creating happy, healthy habits. I'm based outside of Philadelphia, where in my spare time I'm usually reading or walking my rescue puppy Rosie.

In this episode, we're going to take you behind the scenes on our co hosting process, including our prep process, and our at home recording setup in my tiny Brooklyn apartment.

Em Hammel-Shaver 1:26
We'll also talk about how we divided the work and how Book Smart changed as we continued producing new episodes.

Melissa Guller 1:32
And maybe we'll end with a quick book chat for old times sake. And I wanted to first tell everybody how we met because it's such a big part of our podcaster story. So my very first podcast was called figuring it out. And I knew I was looking for somebody to talk about dating profiles. So I took to Google, as I usually do, and I was Searching for how to write, you know, a great dating profile, and you have an amazing post on men ask me calm, and it came up right away. So I did a little bit of research. And I loved what I was seeing. So I just reached out to you cold in the hopes that you would please say yes and agree to come on my then very little podcast and I was so pleasantly excited and surprised when you said yes.

Em Hammel-Shaver 2:24
Oh my gosh, I love receiving that email from you. So as a little bit of background men ask em is a side project of mine that I've had for, gosh, almost eight years at this point where I give smart online dating advice to men. And it's just something I do on the side. And I love talking about dating. So I remember Melissa, when you reached out to me, I was like, Yes, let's talk and I'll come up to New York City so we can talk in person.

Melissa Guller 2:48
Yeah. And that was so fun for me because I'd been recording remotely. And so to have somebody say, oh, what if we could actually do this together in real life. That was I believe the first time Recorded in studio and so, our experience recording together in that tiny studio we were facing each other. We each had our own microphone. And I think I knew it was love at first sight between us when you arrived with like five pages of notes.

Em Hammel-Shaver 3:15
That's me. Oh my god, this is absolutely incredible. I remember being so nervous that referencing my notes and then rustling paper was going to be like a major No, no, but you assured me that it was a okay to have notes. And then that's when I knew that I met my person.

Melissa Guller 3:33
And it was it was totally fine. I've since started doing kind of phone notes like for anybody listening, wondering, oh, maybe I don't want wrestling paper. I usually take notes on my phone during interviews. I find it helps me remember what people say. But you really couldn't hear them in that episode. And actually, that episode ended up being if not the most downloaded episode of figuring it out. Definitely in the top three. I think that your advice was so smart. So Obviously well prepared but didn't sound like you were reading from a script, which I think is a real gift of yours. And we just like had a good time.

Em Hammel-Shaver 4:07
Yeah, I thought we had such a great time. I was so psyched. We got to do that in person. And that was really the start of a lot more for us.

Melissa Guller 4:15
I know we went to dinner after I think we were both kind of like, Oh, this is amazing. Yeah. Can we be friends now? Yeah. And then I think it was maybe five or six months later. I think that's when I reached out to you about Book Smart. So something I learned from figuring it out is that I did really enjoy podcasting. But at times as a solo host. It felt a little bit lonely because you're the one shouldering you know, all the work. And I just kind of reevaluate it. He said, You know, I've done like, 30 episodes of this podcast, I want to make sure that I'm being intentional and not just continuing with something because it's the way that I started. And I had this idea about doing a podcast about nonfiction books and self help personal development books because I love them. But not a lot of people in my world want to nerd out about them as much as I did. And I just had this like, brain seat. I was like, Do you know who would be perfect for this is Adam

Em Hammel-Shaver 5:17
Wright? Well, because after we met in person for the figuring it out interview, we had stayed in touch. And we were just like having virtual hangouts via FaceTime. And we were always talking about the books we were reading. And so it just felt like a really natural progression to be like, hey, let's turn on the microphone. While we're having these talks, and of course, a lot, a lot happened before we turned on the microphone.

Melissa Guller 5:40
Yeah, and I think that's a good topic to move into next. So before we started, you know, I pitched you on the idea. I think at this point, I had already run some potential names past you. And it's so funny looking back. I think the name that I proposed one of many was books smarter, and you were like, Okay, what about books smart. Genius. So already improving the podcast far more than I could alone. But even after you said, Yes, we are both, I think in a good way, like careful, thoughtful people. And we wanted to make sure that we were very much on the same page about things.

Em Hammel-Shaver 6:18
Yes, yeah, I think it was important to both of us that we created not just a common vision for what we wanted to make together, but also felt like our time, our energy, our expertise, our finances were all considered protected, and just sort of aligned with what the other one did.

Melissa Guller 6:37
Mm hmm. And so we did actually write out an agreement and I think that's something I would strongly recommend for anybody else with a co host and we can talk about some of the things that we outlined. But I think not only did it help us work through what each of us thought, but you know, it gives peace of mind it gives clarity for things down the road. What do you think were some of the other perks to doing the written outline before we talk about what we included?

Em Hammel-Shaver 7:05
To me? So the things you said, thinking out how the process of working together was going to go the peace of mind, but also it made me really realize what a serious endeavor creating a project like this was together. Not that I was not going to take it seriously. But having that formal frame around, it really did establish for me like, Alright, this, I'm in this with someone else. This isn't just a passion project of mine. And I want to take this seriously. And so it to me, it's sort of set that expectation.

Melissa Guller 7:38
Yeah, that's a great point. I think a big reason why Book Smart work is because we really were literally on the same page. And that couldn't have happened unless we had actually typed something out. Because even as we started to move through it, I think there were many times where we were like, Oh, we've never thought about that before. So maybe we can talk about some of the actual components of the agreement that we put together.

Em Hammel-Shaver 8:03
Sure. Yeah, I know, we had a

Em Hammel-Shaver 8:07
responsibilities section that was helpful for both of us thinking out like, Alright, what is involved with this? And how are we going to share those responsibilities?

Melissa Guller 8:16
Yeah, I think that was a good one, because we'll talk about this in a bit. But we definitely took on different roles in production. And even little things like if we had wanted to outsource to an editor, which we ended up doing, like we talked about the implications there. And a big one, of course, is that we wanted to talk about how we would not just divide potential income, but also potential expenses. Mm hmm.

Em Hammel-Shaver 8:39
Yeah, that was big. And that also felt like that gave me some peace of mind to knowing that we were going to share that responsibility and share that decision making because I think projects like these can also get expensive quickly. And so knowing I had a buddy in sharing that burden is the wrong word. financial responsibility was helpful. But then also, knowing it wasn't fully on my shoulders was was a relief.

Melissa Guller 9:08
Definitely. And if anybody is curious to learn more about how to put together a great co host agreement, I actually have some resources that I recommend that I could put in the show notes or you can visit Witten wire comm slash contract vault to check it out. Now and let's talk about our episode prep process. We were so excited. We got our written agreement together, we spent, I think, like some very fun times just brainstorming what kind of books we wanted to start with. And we landed on a few to start with first but maybe you can talk more about how we prepped for the episodes. So I think the major part of the prep was we were both reading lots of books,

Em Hammel-Shaver 9:47
so many books, so many books. And for me so reading the book included taking notes in the actual physical book I know you had done I think you you had done a lot of your reading On an on an E reader and for me like I really like to have pen on paper. And so

Em Hammel-Shaver 10:07
we both spent a lot of time doing that. And then

Em Hammel-Shaver 10:11
you want me to talk about the script outline? No,

Melissa Guller 10:13
yeah. And then we can talk about how we have very different styles of prepping beyond the script.

Em Hammel-Shaver 10:20
Okay, so I think initially you created because this was all brand new to me, I had no idea what a script outline even needed to include for a podcast. So you created our initial templates that guided our very first episodes, but throughout the rest of the process of our recording new episodes, I would take the template and then create the outline of what, you know the intros and outros. You know, where ads needed to be what our main discussion points were going to be. And beyond that, we also both had our own separate notes for what we wanted to say about each book.

Melissa Guller 10:58
Yeah, and so Em creates like, beautiful, gorgeous outlines notes based on her like, carefully crafted physical book notes just like an absolute thing of beauty. Meanwhile, I've read the books on Kindle, because I really liked the ability to highlight and then export my highlights. And then what I would do is I would take notes as I was reading in my digital note taking app, I use an app called bear, which I'll include in the show notes. And then I would go through and highlight the quotes I knew I wanted to bring up. And I would add in little bullet points here and there. But I feel like it's a good thing I never showed them to you because I feel like you would see disaster.

Em Hammel-Shaver 11:40
Well, to me, it seems like it's magic, that you're able to just funnel your notes from the book into this app who'd like I feel like I'm in a million years old when I talk about whatever the system wants to use, because it's so far beyond me, technologically. I I'm super old school. It's like I need to I went back to my college days like, typing out my notes again, that's how they stick in my brain. I'm like a visual physical learner. And so the fact that you were able to just like

Em Hammel-Shaver 12:12
funnel some text from one portal into another and then speak to it is like you are magic.

Melissa Guller 12:19
Okay, I feel like you're giving me way too much credit here. And there not anything special like looking at my notes. I do still have some sense of order, not a monster. I've got bullet points. I've got heading titles for the chapters. It's not just like an absolute chaos tumbleweed. But what I like about bringing this up is that we both have super different reading styles and note taking during the process, and very different episode prep styles because this is something I know even with like a lot of my students, when we think of scripting, some of them are I think, EMS they want to write out not necessarily every word but they want like beautiful outline. They want to feel super prepared, but on the other hand, Have some students who are not the Melissa, I would say I'm in the middle. They're like, whatever the other end is where they're like, I don't want to write a single word in advance. I just want to show up and go for it. And I don't think any of these approaches are wrong. I do think what we did with the script outline where we definitely scripted the intro, always. And the outro That, to me is like the only part that really has to be scripted.

Em Hammel-Shaver 13:24
Yeah, and I really liked that we had this common script. So we both knew basically what had to happen and then we could each separately go rogue in our own ways. me like compulsively creating outlines, and you being like a digital starfish.

Melissa Guller 13:42
Well, you're right, though, it's a good point, because it makes the conversation a lot more natural, because we didn't know exactly what the other person was going to say. So even though we were reading from the same books, you would bring something up, or maybe a quote from the book that I didn't remember that really stood out to you. And then when I would react, it felt natural or Same thing I would bring up a question or a part that I liked. And even though you had your very well prepared Doc, that didn't stop you from still like, being very go with the flow with the conversation, like we sound like humans having a conversation, because we are we're not just reading from our own little robot scripts,

Em Hammel-Shaver 14:15
right. And I appreciated as a total podcasting newbie, the ability for us to say, for me to say every now and then, wait, what should I say now? Like it, we were able to have a natural conversation and just by the sheer fact that we were podcasting, we were able to sort of edit out those awkward bits when,

Em Hammel-Shaver 14:35
you know, the conversation came to a natural conclusion. And then we had to find like, okay, what's the next main point we have to talk about?

Em Hammel-Shaver 14:42
There's a lot of there's a lot of grace in the process.

Melissa Guller 14:45
Definitely agreed. I think we can kind of use that to transition into dividing the work a little bit more behind the scenes stuff. So I think a funny part of the behind the scenes was how we actually Really recorded. So I remember when I pitch to you that we could record remotely because I live in New York, you live in Pennsylvania, we're near to each other, but we're definitely not in the same neighborhood. And so I said, oh, let's record remotely and you said, Oh, no, Melissa, what if I drove to Brooklyn?

Em Hammel-Shaver 15:16
What if I came to you and you guided me in everything that we do?

Unknown Speaker 15:21
And I said, Okay, sure. You can come to my 400 square foot apartment. I can turn this into a podcasting studio. No problem.

Unknown Speaker 15:28
Cue foam. And what else did he is she? Oh my gosh, yeah.

Melissa Guller 15:33
I think when you're setting up and you're recording, like just yourself, what a lot of podcasters do is they find a soft place in their home like by that I mean, maybe you've heard stories of podcasters recording in closets. It's usually because it's like an enclosed room with a lot of fabric. Really, the only place I wouldn't recommend recording is if your desk is in front of like a gorgeous window. The glass tends to reflect sound a little bit

Em Hammel-Shaver 15:58
more the basically where I'm recording right now at a desk. This is why video.

Melissa Guller 16:04
Exactly, no, you sound great. But the average I would say at home podcaster. As long as you're in the quietest possible part of your home and you run your soundtrack and you sound good, you're fine. That being said, I didn't know that we had something specific to tackle, which is that with two of us, we have two microphones, right. And so you can't use the same microphone for a lot of reasons. The first is that it's a lot harder to edit. If you're recording two voices into one track, instead of two microphones into two tracks, it's just gives the editing process more flexibility. But on top of that, when you hit your microphone, you have to be within like four to six inches of the microphone. So unless you and I want it to be within like a four to six inches of each other's face. Then we each needed our own mic. So we got our cute matching Blue Yeti is on throw a link in the show notes to my favorite microphones. And what we did was we set them up on opposite sides. My table. Oh, excuse me, my table wasn't that big. I live in a tiny apartment. I forgot, I put you at the table and me at a desk so that we could be at the time ahead of our time socially distanced from each other. My apartment, and I didn't want the microphones to pick up the sound. So we got these inexpensive, like foam squares, and we created little forts for each of our microphones. And then I put up this giant blanket, because we were in my kitchen. And I didn't want it to like, I don't know, it was such a an elaborate setup. I don't know if the blanket really added to it. But it made me feel kind of cool.

Em Hammel-Shaver 17:38
Yeah, it made me feel like we were doing it right. Even though I have I had nothing to compare it

Melissa Guller 17:44
to. Exactly. It's like okay, we're in studio now.

Em Hammel-Shaver 17:47
Yes,

Melissa Guller 17:48
it's no longer my apartment weren't. Well, it's still a studio, but now it's like yeah, but it was very fun. Um, let's talk about device. The work though. So as we started to do more episodes, I think something that's also really wonderful about having a co host is just that. You don't have to do it all. So I handled the nerdy, like project management. I was doing like the production stuff. I was working with our editor. And we did still both review the edits, but then you handled a lot of the other wonderful things. Want to talk about that. Right? Yeah,

Em Hammel-Shaver 18:28
I usually created the show notes, created the episode descriptions, created our newsletter. I'm a writer, so anything that was writing related website related was fun for me to do. I like that we did divide based on our skill set and based based on what we thought would actually be fun for each of us to do for example, I am very social media avoidant. I know it's not your most favorite thing, but that was something that I was like, this is not going to spark joy for me. And so you handled that For you shownotes did not spark joy and happiness do that.

Melissa Guller 19:06
So I volunteered I was just like, this is a dream as amazing as

Em Hammel-Shaver 19:11
like y'all play on Squarespace. That's what I do for my job. Love it.

Melissa Guller 19:16
Yeah. Oh my god, that was such a huge perk. I think we both felt like we were winning, which is really the best case scenario. Yeah,

Em Hammel-Shaver 19:23
yeah. And it was really nice. There really wasn't much that I needed to do that. I was like, Oh, that's again.

Em Hammel-Shaver 19:31
And I think that's a really amazing perk of working with a co host.

Melissa Guller 19:35
Yeah, definitely. Do you want to talk about some of our favorite parts and challenges before we talk about maybe some sanity savers or what are you feeling we go into next?

Em Hammel-Shaver 19:45
Yeah, other fun stuff. Let's see. Um, well, obviously it was fun to hang out and talk about books all day and literally all day because we would record in full day batches. It was I really liked sharing the story. spotlight. I think that's a major perk for anyone who feels like they have a lot to say. But they don't want to do it all themselves. It was much more comfortable for me to be in conversation than like, I wouldn't have a podcast if, if I had to do it alone. So that was that was a major plus for me.

Melissa Guller 20:20
Mm hmm. I totally agree. I think not only is it fun, maybe funds aren't word preferable, like use that to share the spotlight, but also just the natural back and forth. And the ease of the recording process was just really enjoyable. I think for a lot of podcasters going solo can feel really daunting because you're just talking really to yourself when you're recording and it is still a great fit for a lot of people. And on the other hand interviewing is very different from co hosting because there are two very distinct roles. And I remember in my first you know, dozen or two dozen interviews, thinking I'm loving learning from this person. But at the same time, I'm not participating in the conversation in the same way as I would if we were co hosting. And so to me, the CO hosted format was such a perfect match of just a regular conversation. Like I really looked forward to our recording days. And we got to talk about something that we both really loved and I got to learn what you thought about the book. Like I was always so curious, I'd be reading the book taking notes thinking like, Oh, I think am this or sometimes thinking like, there's no way

Em Hammel-Shaver 21:32
there's no way

Em Hammel-Shaver 21:35
I really liked that too. It did feel like it was just a fun conversation. And I hope that like one of the benefits, I think to listeners is that they get to hear multiple perspectives just on something when you love something, and I didn't love it so much like it was fun to like to have that playing off of each other to um, I found that like, I'm really comfortable. Going into personal details about my own life. And I know you were like, ah, not so much my personal life happy to talk about work stuff. And so we had I thought, like a really nice balance in just like who we are what we wanted to share what we were psyched to talk about. And like we complemented each other in a lot of ways. Because there was a lot that we shared that we were supposed to talk about. So it was it was a really nice balance.

Melissa Guller 22:24
Definitely. And before we talk about that, that's actually such a good point you made about before we even hit record, we had a conversation about what are we comfortable sharing and what are we not comfortable sharing? And I definitely think that's something that any co hosts like us should do, too,

Unknown Speaker 22:39
right?

Melissa Guller 22:40
Yeah. So what I loved about our recording too, like you're starting to say is, I think we have just enough in common that we wanted to read the same books, and we of course enjoy each other's company. But we're also different enough that we didn't love or hate the same things from different books or we had different takeaways. So the conference was always fun. Like we were having our own book club, our little two member book club. And we wanted it to feel like other people were in on our book club I think in a way

Em Hammel-Shaver 23:10
Yeah. And that was feedback that we got as well as people felt like they were getting to listen in on a couple of friends talking about their book club and they really liked our friendship in addition to our conversation.

Melissa Guller 23:22
Yeah, I think maybe of all the format's co hosting feels the most casual because you're both on a level playing field. It's not this like interview format, which even if it's a casual interview, there's still like a pretty clear role dynamic they're so co hosting i think is such a nice way to really just kind of relax chat about something that you love, whether it's books, something that pop culture, even professionally, I don't think there's a topic that wouldn't suit co hosting.

Unknown Speaker 23:51
I agree with you. I have no idea.

Em Hammel-Shaver 23:54
No idea.

Unknown Speaker 23:59
Agreed.

Melissa Guller 24:01
Well, we'll just play to my strengths. particular moment, and I'll say that I don't think I'm sure I could be proven wrong, though. Um, should we talk about maybe the other side, though, because there definitely are, I think challenges with the format much as we love it, we go about coasting, and I truly would recommend it. But it's not all like roses and ghosting.

Em Hammel-Shaver 24:22
For sure, yeah, let's, let's, let's get into some of the challenges or anticipated pitfalls that others could experience.

Melissa Guller 24:31
Yeah. Do you want to go first? Do you want me to go? Um, you go first. We're so used to recording in person too. And we're doing this remote thing and I think we're just like, I can't see your face. What's happening, right. What

Em Hammel-Shaver 24:43
are your eyes saying?

Unknown Speaker 24:45
I know, what is your soul speaking?

Melissa Guller 24:50
I'll go first. So I we did touch on this earlier, but I think it was so important that we were really on the same page. About the work we were going to do the commitment level it would take, who would do what? But I think for a lot of people that isn't a guarantee, like we, I pitched you, and you agreed, but for somebody who's looking for a co host, like maybe you love the thought of the format, but you don't have someone in mind yet, I think that making sure that that person is equally as into it as you are, is so important. Or even if they aren't like 100% as committed, make that clear in the written agreement, like make it so that you own the concept. You own the show, if they decide to walk away that you could find another co host. Like there has to be something I think to

Em Hammel-Shaver 25:42
clarify that distinction that Yeah, that makes sense to me. We were both very willing to have honest conversations throughout the entire process about what what was or wasn't working for us. And so I think having somebody that you feel really comfortable having that level of Frank Communication with is really important. And not everyone is willing to be as transparent. I think as you and I both work with each other.

Melissa Guller 26:08
Yeah, I think we will talk about this a little bit more. But the conversations that we had on our recording days, and just how open we were about what we wanted to do next, or when we made certain changes to the show, I don't think that we could have been successful as podcasters if we hadn't been willing to have those types of conversations. So if it's not something that Arif adopt someone I should say that you're comfortable talking with and being really open with, I think that could be hard down the line.

Em Hammel-Shaver 26:37
Yeah, I think that's why it really makes sense to me to start with creating some kind of written agreement or partnership agreement, because it's a really good way to make sure that your expectations are aligned for all of those complications that could come up and that you are working with somebody that you're able to have that kind of serious conversation with from the very beginning.

Melissa Guller 26:58
Mm hmm. Yeah. And do you think there were other Maybe challenges or anticipated pitfalls we haven't touched on yet.

Em Hammel-Shaver 27:06
I don't I feel like some of the challenges we experienced were just podcasting related, which we can talk about in terms of what we what how we tweaked our process to sort of keep our selves sane along the way.

Melissa Guller 27:18
Yeah, let's talk about the sanity savers. Although actually, you know, I think one more pitfall could be if you have different ideas about what you're going to spend on, or the overall like output of the show like you and I decided early, early on, I think, based on my experience with my first podcast, that we were going to hire an editor, right. And we paid for a Squarespace membership. Like we were really upfront about the fact that we were going to spend that money. And even if you have another co host who's super excited, like if their money beliefs or money capabilities to contribute are different from yours. I do think that that could be a challenge. Yeah, and that just

Em Hammel-Shaver 27:59
closely aligns with what the quality of your output is going to end up being to. So cost doesn't always equal quality, but also having somebody who is really aligned with you about what you want the recording to sound like how you want, like you said, to invest in an editor or try and DIY it, it's, there are a lot of a lot of things that go along with thinking about how you're going to spend, like, to what end?

Melissa Guller 28:26
Yeah, and there are a lot of right answers. And so it's not so much that you and your co host both have to agree to pay for editing live, it's definitely not what we're suggesting. It's instead that either you should both believe in one thing, or you should both believe in another. If you're on different pages, it's going to be a challenge,

Em Hammel-Shaver 28:43
right? And then talk about that and figure out like, well, what are you willing to take on maybe, like if I hadn't been willing to edit because I don't know how to. And you were able to that could have been something that we've figured out if we decided not to spend financially on that. Huh, yeah, definitely.

Melissa Guller 29:02
So, um, I think something that's really interesting about Book Smart is that we, from the start had a couple of strategies that we kept up the whole time that really helped us. But there were some things that we changed along the way to either help with our sanity or just, you know, you learn as you go. And we hinted at this one earlier, but I think maybe one of the best things that we did that we started right from the beginning was doing our full day recordings where we recorded in batches,

Em Hammel-Shaver 29:30
right, and so we would, what was our day of the most recordings? Maybe we did three books, I think three. Yeah, yeah.

Melissa Guller 29:38
That was intense. First of all, looking back on our first recording day, did we do three episodes, three books the first day?

Em Hammel-Shaver 29:46
Yeah, we were like, let's do this type A Hermione Here we go.

Melissa Guller 29:52
Yeah, so we oh my gosh, looking back on like young Melissa and M podcasters. We were so bright eyed and ambitious. We read three books. We came in prepped. Yeah. Three, like think about how much time it takes the other read a book, like we read three books. Granted, we did choose some books that we already loved, right? We still had to go and take all the notes and then show up. And it took us probably longer I think the first recording day to get into a groove. Yeah, because we were learning

Em Hammel-Shaver 30:22
it was the first time we were doing it together. Yeah,

Melissa Guller 30:25
yeah, exactly. So we the setup took a little bit longer because we were figuring that out, then the recording itself like we probably recorded 90 minutes for an episode that probably wasn't longer than an hour the first time. But I do think that having those days became really like fun and special because we not only got to spend time talking about books, already a win, but we would also have our like lunch breaks together.

Em Hammel-Shaver 30:54
Yes, right. It was it was a really nice blend of

Em Hammel-Shaver 30:58
the professor, the professor And the person at all?

Melissa Guller 31:01
Yeah, so we record later on when we like, got her wits about ourselves, we do like a morning recording and an afternoon recording. So we would do the first recording, then we would I think, usually do the lunch break unless we were really feeling it. And then we would just power through both, and then eat afterwards. But it was so nice to of course catch up. But that's also when we got to have a lot of those really honest conversations about not just you know, what books do we want to read next, although we did always talk about that we always walked away from our recording with action items, because that's who we are. But just little thoughts on the format, the release schedule. That's what the lunches I think, really gave us a space for.

Em Hammel-Shaver 31:40
Yeah, and not always little thought sometimes it was big, big stuff like, Oh my gosh, this is so much work. We're like, yeah, how could we do this differently? Because like, this part isn't working so well. And so that's when we ended up making some pretty significant changes that that we did really evolve our process through Yeah,

Melissa Guller 31:59
they want to talk more about those.

Em Hammel-Shaver 32:00
So I think initially we were, we were aiming to release weekly. Is that right?

Melissa Guller 32:06
I think so. Which I don't know why we didn't do this math. But if we had released I know, that would have been 52 of these books a year.

Unknown Speaker 32:15
It was a lot of reading, and

Melissa Guller 32:18
we love to read. We love it, but like, Oh my gosh, we were we were insane. So I do remember, it was pretty early on that I don't even remember which one of us brought it up. Like I want to say it was me. But I also just feel like it was mutual, or you're just like, what if we did.

Em Hammel-Shaver 32:35
And so not only did it save our sanity, but we realized that it was probably easier for listeners to like if we were reading a book a week, they didn't have to read the same book because what we were providing was a really interesting conversation about the book that they didn't have to read it if they didn't want to, but that it would be hard for people to keep up with us if they did want to go ahead and read the books that we had, that we had covered. So it was for And our listener is always thinking about, like, what is the experience that they are looking for as well?

Melissa Guller 33:05
Yeah, that's such a good point, because we really did have hopes that people would read the books that we were reading and that we would be able to engage with listeners. And so if we were struggling to keep up with our own schedule, we definitely had this thought like, there's no way anybody else could do this too,

Em Hammel-Shaver 33:20
right. And that's why that evolved into and so initially, we started doing bi weekly releases. And then we started dividing each book into two separate episodes, so that listeners had even longer to take in a book, either through our episodes, or by reading it themselves as well before they felt quote, unquote, behind.

Melissa Guller 33:41
Yeah, I love that evolution too, because then it ended up being that there was a book per month, which feels more accessible. Yeah, and we would split so that the first episode would be kind of like the recap. You wouldn't have to read the book, although we found that a lot of people want too, but we would just go through what stuck what stood out to us. Maybe favorite quotes favorite moments, we would have a little bit of a discussion on what we thought. But then usually the second episode felt slightly different where we would dive into either the activity from the book or maybe em. Can you help me think of maybe there's a good example of one of those second episodes that we did. I'm blanking on. I'm blanking on him too.

Em Hammel-Shaver 34:23
I think that that was often when we trash talking is the wrong term because we rarely trash talk to any of the books. But we picked books we loved Yeah, it felt like that was when we were having our more like, in the weeds in the details in our personal experience conversations about the books whereas the first episode about the book really was like, here's the big picture here are the main points the author is making, you know, this argument, etc. And the second episode was like, what do we really think?

Melissa Guller 34:53
Oh, am I remember, when we read digital minimalism by Cal Newport, you decided to do this 30 day, it wasn't called a fast digital works digital detox. Right. So we, in the first episode mentioned that you were going to try it. And then I think in the second episode, we talked about your experience actually doing it.

Em Hammel-Shaver 35:14
I think you're right. Yeah. I have a lot to say about that book. I love that book. I recently just skimmed it again, because I was feeling like my tech habits. Were getting a little out of control. And so I didn't do a full on detox, but I got like, Listen, or I read the book and then implemented a light detox. Oh, that's such a good one to go back

Melissa Guller 35:36
to. Yeah, such a good read. I think what was also really fun about our conversations, and the way that it evolved is that we had the first episode and the second episode, but we also had our bookmarked activity, which I thought was a fun signature segment that we would do.

Em Hammel-Shaver 35:53
I loved that and that was so motivating for me because I'm such an action oriented person. I love personal development books. Because I want to, I want to start implementing whatever I've learned immediately. And so that was a really fun prompt for us to share with our listeners, but then to practice ourselves and then check in on in later episodes.

Melissa Guller 36:14
Yeah, it was such a good fit for what we were doing, I think because we were reading personal development books, like if we had been doing exactly the same format, but for a fictional series. I don't think that the bookmarked activity in the way that we were doing it would have necessarily fit. But because these are very, like actionable books about whatever it might have been technology, habits, happiness, having one thing that listeners could do in the end, suited I think both the books we were reading and also who our listeners were,

Em Hammel-Shaver 36:47
definitely, yeah.

Melissa Guller 36:49
And they were fun, too. I think, in some of the episode, the part twos we ended up kind of talking about if we had tried the bookmarked activities as well.

Em Hammel-Shaver 36:57
Yeah, I always did. I love it. single book that we read so much looking back. So we chose so well,

Melissa Guller 37:05
we but actually, that's something interesting worth noting too is we thought a lot about the books that we wanted to read. And we sometimes started books that we won't name and then did not finish them because we were

Em Hammel-Shaver 37:17
unimpressed. Yeah. Not into them.

Melissa Guller 37:20
Yeah. And actually, we thought about, like, do we want to do an episode, even if we don't like the book, but we decided that our point of view, maybe is the way to say it. our point of view is that we were sharing books that we did like that we did find value in right. And so to bring on a book that we didn't really love, just to say like, Oh, we didn't really love it that didn't really fit what we were doing.

Em Hammel-Shaver 37:40
No, not at all. I'm really glad that we didn't end up doing that, especially because it was such a time commitment to read a book, to read a book that we didn't enjoy, and then have to talk about why we didn't enjoy it was like, not what we were about. So I'm glad that we dedicated our time, dedicated our time, which is was not a small amount of time on what we really loved doing?

Melissa Guller 38:03
No, definitely not. And I think something that we've been talking about all episode is that we were really open about communicating. But we were also both really thoughtful about what we wanted to do next. And I think something that's great about podcasting is that you don't have to just keep doing the same thing because you started it in Episode One, like you have the freedom to evolve your podcast. And like, dare I say, I want to give listeners permission to change things as they go. Because if it's not serving you, that's reason enough, if you think your listeners would like something else, that's reason enough, if you feel like it, that's reason enough, like you don't have to do a ton of hard, deep research to think should I change my podcast? You can really just try something new in the next episode and see how it goes.

Em Hammel-Shaver 38:47
Mm hmm. I loved every single little tweak and experiment we ran and I think each one served us really well and ultimately got us to a spot where we were really pleased with the format and how much we were reading how We were recording them while we were sharing them. Yeah.

Melissa Guller 39:03
And I think worth noting too, that when we switched to bi weekly releases, it did slightly slow the growth of the podcast. Like there's a lot of research that shows that the more frequently you release episodes, I'm going to say this with a asterisk, the more quickly your show will grow. But our show did grow. And I think what's great about the BI weekly release is that because we were still putting out really great content that our listeners loved, they kept coming back. They were recommending it we ended up actually getting picked up by a couple of websites which really shot up our downloads and you and I like freaked out about together.

Unknown Speaker 39:42
That's another fun thing with a ghost is like when you hit your first 1000 or 10,000 downloads you get to send them screenshots and be like, oh my god am exclamation exclamation.

Em Hammel-Shaver 39:55
Exciting. Yeah. And that's, that's a really good point. It's like having a co host Somebody to celebrate with and I think so many whether it's you know, business ownership or side hustles or passion projects, so many of them can be so solitary and it's so much fun to have somebody to celebrate with, and also submitted to just talk out stuff with you would normally have to figure out on your own.

Melissa Guller 40:17
Oh my gosh, yeah, it was such a relief, honestly, to have somebody else in it with you like your podcast partner in crime. I really believe that Book Smart ended up much better off because we had the both of us like, never forget it would have been booked smarter without you.

Em Hammel-Shaver 40:38
Still would have been a fabulous podcast, I have no doubt.

Melissa Guller 40:42
It would not have been

Unknown Speaker 40:45
greater than the sum of its parts.

Melissa Guller 40:48
Well, as we start to kind of wrap up this episode, I want to talk a little bit about who this could be right for. So, you know, we've talked about I think a lot of the pros and cons and what we did, and so People who are enjoying maybe the sound of our experience, I definitely think anybody could have a co hosted show. But who do you think that this could be a good fit for?

Em Hammel-Shaver 41:10
You, anyone who likes the sound of what we've just shared? Yes. And then I think if

Em Hammel-Shaver 41:16
if you like the idea of not having the full weight of a conversation on your shoulders, like I think I mentioned that earlier that was that was big for me is feeling like I, if I were to take something on like this by myself, having the full conversational and content load on my shoulders would have been just stressful. And so getting to share it with somebody and getting to tag team. What feels fun, and sort of offload what feels really hard. It's just like such a gift. What about you, what do you think? Who do you think this is a really great fit for?

Melissa Guller 41:58
Well, as we've been Talking about all along. I think it's so fun to share our love of books with each other. And I think if part of the reason why you're starting your podcast is to share a passion, whether it's like a hobby passion, or like a professional skill and passion, finding somebody else to share that with into half conversations about really, like, brought me joy. And I felt exhausted after a long day of recording, but also like really energized and really excited to share our episodes with our listeners. And I think it was because we got to learn not just about the books, but what each other thought about the books. And that's not something you can get in any other format like solo. That's all you it's all your research, interviewing. I love Like I said, you get to learn about somebody else, but it's not that back and forth. So if people want to just kind of feel like they're in a great conversation with somebody you enjoy spending time with then I think this is going to be such a great fit.

Em Hammel-Shaver 42:59
Yeah, it's a great And like you said, it's it gives your listeners to a more well rounded perspective on the topics. It's not just you and your notes.

Melissa Guller 43:08
Yeah, I think finding somebody who you have a lot in common with from, like an expectations, hard working in the way that you want to be hard working like the production process, you should be aligned on and you should like the same things. But if you guys have a different worldview, or if you have contrasting personalities, or you're each bringing something different to the table, I think that's what makes the conversation really interesting. Mm hmm.

Em Hammel-Shaver 43:33
Definitely.

Melissa Guller 43:36
What about who we think this is maybe not a good fit for?

Em Hammel-Shaver 43:40
Um, so somebody does not want to share the spotlight. Like I said, I loved sharing the spotlight and I preferred it but if you don't feel like doing it, don't do it. Then a co host is not for you, I think,

Melissa Guller 43:51
hmm. I think on the other side, if you are not completely committed to being in the podcast, you shouldn't Bringing somebody else in to do it for you. Like, if you have even an inkling that you might not want to do this long term, I think you'd have to really like, examine that. Because podcasting can take a lot of work as we've talked about. And the results are usually pretty rewarding. But if you're just like dabbling, or you're unsure, and then bring in somebody else, and they're really pumped in, they're really excited, you're gonna be the one letting down the team. So I think if you want to step up to the plate as a co host, you have to be willing to like show up and record and be fully present partner.

Em Hammel-Shaver 44:33
Yeah, that's a great point. And sort of another facet of that is if you're somebody who has a really specific vision, and you want full creative control over what that looks like, might be tough to bring somebody in who is going to have their own input and ideas. And if you're not

Em Hammel-Shaver 44:50
interested in tweaking what you have in mind, that could be a real challenge as well.

Melissa Guller 44:55
Oh, yeah, that's a great point. And I think it's important to note that like, from an ideas and concepts perspective, We were both very much equals. Yeah. But depending on what your podcast is, like maybe if you're a business owner and you want to have a podcast and you want to bring in your smart, like professional network friend who you have a great relationship with, but the podcast is under your brand. I don't think it has to be that the vision is 5050 in order to have a co host, but I do think it needs to be clear. If that isn't the case.

Em Hammel-Shaver 45:25
That makes sense, right? And set those expectations up early. So that everybody's clear on on how that's going to go.

Melissa Guller 45:33
Yeah, I mean, that's it. I think 5050 was a great way to go in terms of the specific, like, vision that we have. I think sometimes with our agreement, some things were 5149 just because 5050 is like a dangerous place to be in oftentimes, but just because I mentioned business owners, I do think that if you have your own business, and there's another business owner in maybe a complimentary field, who is speaking to a similar audiences you I actually think that that could be a really great partnership opportunity to join up and be co hosts in a show. Definitely. Yeah. Well, I couldn't let you go without at least throwing it back to a little bit of our book conversation for all times. So I want to talk a little bit about what we're reading. So what have you been up to lately? Book wise, tell me everything.

Em Hammel-Shaver 46:22
Okay. So, what's funny is that it's not much different from where we were at this point last year in books smart, which is that, you know, we are in unusual times here, my library is closed. I'm a big fan of the library. And so I've been looking at my own bookshelves thinking, alright, what do I want to revisit? And I just re read the big leap, which was Book Smarts, Episode Two. And it is just incredible what you can get from a second or third or fourth reading of a book because it totally depends on what place you're in and sort of what what information you're ready to read. See. And so I just revisited some of my upper limiting challenges in my life with regard to taking on a few new perspectives and how I'm evolving my own work and mindset. And that book is just so amazing. And once again, it really challenged my thinking in a brilliant way.

Melissa Guller 47:23
Yeah. And you mentioned this, you took like the words out of my brain as you said them, but depending on the place that you're in, when you read the book, I think you really do take very different things away from it. And the big leap is about mindset. And I think that a lot of where you are in your life, when you read the book, you'll see things very differently. So now you're having me think, Oh, I should go back and it's not the longest book either. So it'd be a good one to reread.

Em Hammel-Shaver 47:49
Yeah, it's a it's not it's not long at all, and it is so jam packed full of good stuff. How about you? What are you rereading are not necessarily rereading, but I've been,

Melissa Guller 47:59
I do a little bit Ready to get by day. But I've been thinking a lot about art of gathering because that was one of my favorite books that we read. And it's been on my mind because it's a book I recommend really often when people ask me for recommendations, but in this pandemic, there are no gatherings in the traditional sense. People are still getting together, but it feels a lot different. And it's of a much different scope. And it's fascinating to think about like Priya Parker, I'm really curious to hear her take, I should search and see if she has one on how can we continue to gather in a time where we can't necessarily be near each other? That's such an interesting question. Right. And

Em Hammel-Shaver 48:43
I think in some ways, it's harder and in some ways, it could be easier, which is that, you know, the idea of making sure gatherings have a purpose. Like I think sometimes you just hop on FaceTime and hang out with a friend but I posted a lot of zoom get togethers in the recent months where we had very specific purposes and they were all social. You know, they weren't they weren't work related, but like my cousin graduated from college and so I had like a graduation party for her on zoom.

Melissa Guller 49:12
And so there's sounds like you were creating a moment a lot of our

Em Hammel-Shaver 49:16
right I know that's a milestone It was like this cannot go on noticed. So we will gather,

Melissa Guller 49:23
maybe we should have mentioned that one of the downsides to co hosting is that you start to speak in your own language that nobody else. And then I would just start using phrases from the books like even when we were preparing for this call, and I was having trouble with technology and she said that I helped her reframe it. I was like, oh, we're already doing it again.

Unknown Speaker 49:45
I love it. I do feel like reading all these books did in fact make me smarter. Yeah. And it's

Em Hammel-Shaver 49:50
so fun that to have a common language with with someone with a buddy.

Melissa Guller 49:54
Definitely, and kind of to answer your question about what I'm reading currently. book I read after we did Book Smart, but that I absolutely wished we could have done an episode about maybe I'll talk you into in the future is maybe you should talk to someone by Laurie Gottlieb. Have you read it?

Em Hammel-Shaver 50:11
Yes. I love that book. So you want to talk about our experiences in therapy. I want to talk about her experience.

Melissa Guller 50:19
Right, maybe I haven't thought this all the way through.

Unknown Speaker 50:22
But I would recommend that book.

Melissa Guller 50:24
Yeah. And the the quick summary is that Laurie herself is a therapist, and it's about her experience seeking out therapy from someone else. And there's story woven in and I think that her perspective in both chairs, I guess one couch one chair is fascinating, but also somehow very relatable, even though I'm not a therapist. I don't know. I loved it. Yeah, that's a phenomenal book. Well, um, do you think there's anything that we haven't covered yet that we want listeners to know about co hosting

Em Hammel-Shaver 51:00
Don't think if this feels right, go forth, have fun, make a plan prototype together.

Melissa Guller 51:09
Another Book Smart reference, I'll include a link to our podcast in the show notes in case people want to check it out. I think that my takeaway from doing a co hosted show is that it really allowed me to pursue an interest of mine with somebody else who had the same interest. And I didn't just get a podcast out of it. I got like, a heightened friendship and a sense of joy from doing it that I don't know if other formats give me so I really do have special feelings about being a co host. And I hope that other listeners might feel compelled to start their own co hosted show too.

Em Hammel-Shaver 51:43
I have special feelings about you.

Melissa Guller 51:46
I have special feelings about the fact that I used the phrase special feelings. We know I don't like to talk about my feelings but for you I’ll make an exception.

Em Hammel-Shaver 51:54
Thanks.

Melissa Guller
Well, let the music outro play and stop me from saying anything else. [laughs]

Melissa Guller 52:01
else more. Thank you so much for joining us this week to view the complete shownotes and check out the other episodes in this series, visit witandwire.com/. You can also learn more about our courses and services for podcasters on our website anytime. Before we go I

Em Hammel-Shaver 52:21
wanted to ask all of you to help support Wit & Wire by doing something free that takes less than a minute. If you enjoyed this episode, I'd love to ask you to leave a five star review on Apple podcasts reviews let Apple know that great listeners like you enjoy the show and that helps Melissa expand her reach in search results. So it really does make a difference.

Melissa Guller 52:39
Thank you again for joining us in this special co-hosted episode of Wit & Wire. I’ll see you next time, podcasters.

Today’s Guest: Emily Hammel-Shaver

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Emily Hammel-Shaver writes and designs websites for entrepreneurs, and leads workshops on self-care and happy habits for motivated people. Learn more about Emily’s work and find tools for taking great care of yourself at http://www.EmilyHammelShaver.com

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