In 2020, longtime friends MaRah and Taz spent hours on the phone dishing on the latest true crime stories. Next thing they knew, their passion became a weekly show, and Sistas Who Kill: A True Crime Podcast was born.
Apple Podcasts caught up with MaRah and Taz to find out how sharing stories with each other turned into a full-time job and how they built their rapidly growing audience.
Apple Podcasts: How do you know each other and how did you two decide to start this podcast?
MaRah: Well, Taz and I met in high school and have been friends ever since. We always knew we wanted to do something together. And I’ve loved podcasts for a very long time, as did Taz. So I was like, “We should do one.”
We brainstormed a lot of show ideas, then put the idea down for a couple of years. When the pandemic hit, we brought the idea back to the table. I was listening to a lot of true crime podcasts and Taz was watching a lot of true crime TV. We found ourselves just chatting about the crimes, and we were like, “Oh, my goodness! Is this our podcast?”
Taz said, “Well, anything I do, I want it to be Black. I want it to be about Black people, for Black people.” And I was like, “Great. I want it to be about women and women empowerment.” So Sistas Who Kill was made.
AP: What were your ambitions for the podcast when you started out?
Taz: For me, I never looked at this as being a full-time job. I never really wanted to be an entertainer. MaRah kept bringing the idea of starting a podcast back up. And I think once we realized that it was something, we tried to put intention behind everything we do.
We advertise towards Black women, because that’s who we’re doing it for. That’s what it’s all about. You know. Everybody is welcome. But we came in here saying, “Black” and “women,” and that’s who we wanted to give back to and cater towards. And so I feel like that’s often reflected in the work and the things that we try to do.
AP: How did you approach growing and engaging your audience?
MaRah: I am kind of outward-facing, so I do most of the social media — whatever the people see. And Taz is our business side, behind the scenes. I made social media accounts for Sistas Who Kill. And I think that helped us get people to press play. Then more people started coming in very quickly.
Taz: I knew that in order for us to continue, we were going to have to start bringing in money. We needed better microphones and new computers. And that’s when we started putting together the idea for ad space geared towards small businesses. You always hear big brand ads. We thought, “Why can’t everybody get a piece of the pie?”
AP: While ratings and reviews do not influence a show’s placement on the charts or within search, they can help listeners discover and engage with your podcast. Your show on Apple Podcasts has over 4000 ratings and reviews in the app and your average rating is a 4.9 out of 5, which is amazing. How did you cultivate and maintain that level of interest from your audience?
Taz: We decided to start telling our listeners to leave reviews because we wanted to grow our audience. We made a video about how you leave a review. Then we started reading them — the few that we had — on the air. From there, people got excited about having a chance to hear their review on the show. So more and more people started coming out.
MaRah: We also have a discussion group. It’s a safe space for everybody to discuss the case, talk true crime, and debate. And that really gives us a sense of community with our audience. We’re on there. And we talk to them and we respond, and we’re like, “Oh girl, you crazy.” And I think that they really feel like they are friends with us. Just like we really feel like we’re friends with them.
Taz: Yeah, we’re accessible. They really like that we feel accessible all the time. We get, “Y’all really talk back!”
AP: What advice do you have for other podcasters just starting out that you wish you’d gotten when you launched Sistas Who Kill?
MaRah: I’ve been in entertainment for a while and Taz has not, so I wish that we could have sat down and really been like, “These are all the ways to use a microphone. And no, we don’t have to speak differently. But there is a way to make sure we’re coming off in a way that people want to come back and hear us while still being ourselves.”
Taz: Don’t start without having a couple of episodes piled up. I think that was probably the hardest thing for us to get past. Every week we would research Monday and Tuesday, record Wednesday, spend all day Thursday editing to get it out by Friday. We would take a breath on Saturday, but on Sunday we were picking out the next story to go back into it again. And it was just demanding and took such a toll on us.