Seasoned dating coach Damona Hoffman never set out to become an expert on love and relationships. But sometimes our calling finds us — and it did for Damona.
While working her way up the ladder at a major TV network, she taught classes to actors looking for better ways to market themselves and secure jobs in the industry.
Damona’s students learned how to present themselves at auditions, how to have conversations with casting professionals and how to tell their stories.
At the time, Damona was single and dating in Los Angeles — and it occurred to her that there was some overlap between the marketing skills she taught actors and the skills that help singles land a great relationship.
Damona decided to use her dating life as a test case — and it worked! “Once I understood [how dating is similar to the job search] and applied the techniques that I would [give] my students, I ended up meeting my husband online,” Damona recalls on an episode of Between Two Mics.
Soon friends and colleagues started asking her about online dating and she found herself with a flourishing side gig, helping clients perfect their online dating profiles.
After having her first child, Damona decided to leave her job in TV.
From there, one thing really did lead to another. Though she resisted the idea of turning dating coaching into a full-time thing, helping singles morphed into Damona’s number-one focus.
Concurrently, she used her experience working in television to help her build a media platform that has afforded her opportunities to speak about love and relationships in articles in The LA Times and The Washington Post, on The Drew Barrymore Show and NPR and more.
And while Damona got into the podcasting world in 2013, she says that her journey to become a media personality has been fueled by her weekly podcast, Dates & Mates. Nearly 400 episodes later, her strategy has been effective.
Keep reading for more of Damona’s insights on successfully leveraging a podcast into other professional opportunities and on the podcasting industry, more generally.
1. Play the long game
Aspiring media personalities often ask Damona for her advice on how to land spots on prestigious television shows and in popular publications. The question makes Damona laugh.
“I’m like, well, start eight years ago,” she says of these conversations with people who want to get their foot in the door with top-tier media. “Each experience literally can be tracked to a previous experience that I built upon.”
According to Damona, the path to top-tier media is paved with putting yourself out there on your podcast, seeking opportunities with smaller outlets, showing up to each appearance with lots of research and preparation under your belt and watching or listening back to each of those appearances to see how you can improve in the future.
Over time, these appearances build on each other — and might just lead you to The Drew Barrymore Show.
Given that this has been Damona’s strategy, it’s no wonder she considers Dates & Mates the “content engine” for everything she does and the “proving ground” that’s helped grow her platform.
2. Steer your content according to your audience
Damona learned the importance of planning your content specifically for your audiences from her time in the television industry.
In those days, she and her team had access to ample analytics that helped support their decision-making — and while she admits that analytics for her podcast aren’t quite as easy to come by (don’t we all know that struggle?!), her philosophy for planning programming remains the same.
In the absence of detailed analytics for Dates & Mates, Damona seeks out information on the kinds of topics that her listeners are really interested in by inviting them to share their feedback and submit questions for her to answer on the show.
“It’s all about who is listening,” Damona says. “If I’m thinking about what [my audience] needs to know [and] what kinds of questions they would have, that really helps steer the direction of the content.”
This principle has become that much more important to Damona more recently in her role as the host of I Make a Living, a podcast produced and sponsored by Freshbooks.
The listener base of I Make a Living is very different from that of Dates & Mates, so Damona and her team plan accordingly for both shows. The audience for I Make a Living is made up of entrepreneurs, so Damona draws more on her personal experiences in entrepreneurship for that show, while the inspiration for Dates & Mates comes from her expertise as a dating coach.
3. Don’t stress about the big names coming into podcasting
When discussing the broader podcast industry, Damona expresses some frustration with the animosity that some indie podcasters feel toward celebrities hitting the scene with shows backed by their well-known contacts and big money.
She understands where it comes from, but she encourages her podcasting colleagues to see the upside instead of worrying about competition.
“I actually think what this has done is legitimize what we are doing and the medium we love,” Damona says. “I think that more for those shows means more for everybody.”
Next time you see a celebrity headlining a new show in your niche, don’t panic! Instead, consider the opportunities for growth and more listeners.
4. Think of podcasting like dating!
Damona’s expertise in both relationships and the media make her uniquely qualified to draw some very interesting parallels between dating and podcasting.
Of course, Damona emphasizes the importance of active, intent listening in both endeavors — but there’s also something to be said for the ways in which the actual strategies for them should be similar.
Just as Damona would encourage the clients in her dating coaching business to pinpoint and embrace their authentic self before putting themselves out there for a new relationship, she encourages newbie podcasters to really think about how they can be most authentic before they begin recording episodes.
“Who are you? What do you want to say in the world? Why are you doing this podcast?” Damona prompts podcasters to ask themselves. “Then, you can figure out what your path is going to be.”
For more of Damona’s thoughts on using your podcast as the engine to fuel other endeavors, listen to this episode of Between Two Mics. Be sure to subscribe to get future episodes directly in your preferred podcast player.
Rockwell Felder is a CPA, entrepreneur, and co-founder of SquadCast. He and his team are on a mission to amplify collaboration, seeking to empower creatives to engage in meaningful conversations without barriers.