Podcasting is both the easiest thing in the world to do, and somehow also one of the most difficult. It’s easy because you can turn on a recording and talk – most anyone can do that. But it’s also hard because if you don’t know what you’re doing, your audience will consist of you, your dog and that’s about it. I’m going to share with you the 17 things that will make a difference and what to know before you start podcasting.
Before I go any further, I’ll share that my current podcast – Praestabilis: Excellence in Marketing is available on Amazon Music and also on Audible at no cost if you’d like to have a listen. This is my third podcast series, so I know a thing or two about what I’m sharing with you here.
The very best time to know what you’re doing in terms of creating a successful, highly popular podcast is long before you make your first recording. But for most podcasters, it’s a hard slog of trial and error, experimentation and wasted time while they learn the hard way just what works and what does not.
Fortunately for you, I’ve assembled some of the very best podcasting advice here for you to use in setting up your next podcast.
1: Knowing = Getting
Why do you want to podcast? If you know what you want to get out of podcasting then you’ll not only have a reason for learning this new skill, but you’ll also know what direction to take it in.
Are you podcasting just because everyone else seems to be doing it? Then don’t bother because you’ll just end up wasting your time.
Do you want to podcast to become known as an expert in your field, to connect with other movers and shakers and to sell products? Good, because now you have clear reasons for podcasting.
2: Your Email List Comes Before Your Podcast
Too many people get this one backwards. They think that having a podcast is a great way to start building an email list. But if you don’t already have an email list when you start podcasting, then who will be listening to those first podcast episodes?
Your very first step to a successful podcast is to start building an email list and a presence on social media first. Once your list is a decent size and responsive, then you can launch a podcast.
You’re going to send your subscribers and social media friends to your podcast to get critical mass, boosting you onto the iTunes “New and Noteworthy” and other lists that will then get you more listeners and more subscribers.
Without your email list it’s going to be quite difficult to get anyone on your podcast during those first crucial weeks.
3: Have Something To Sell From Day One
Podcasting takes time and money. You’ll be investing your time to create your podcasts, edit the episodes, do the marketing and everything else that needs to be done. Or you’ll be hiring someone to do it for you.
Wouldn’t it be nice if your podcast started making money right away, so that these expenses are covered and you’re earning something for your time?
If you don’t have your own product, choose an affiliate product and make it your sponsor.
4: Choose to Be a Celebrity from Day One
Before you start podcasting, you need to ask yourself who you want to be when you’re on that microphone. Choose to be someone who is bigger than you in real life, someone with a memorable name and a big personality. I refer to this as becoming a local celebrity and I even teach an online course on how to become a local celebrity.
Decide what is special about you, and how you are different from everyone else. What are your special powers? What can you do better than anyone else? What perspective can you take that is new and noteworthy?
If the answer is nothing, then it’s time to choose who you will become when that microphone is on. This isn’t a matter of becoming an entirely different person, but rather of choosing the best bits of yourself and then making them larger than life.
Finally, get yourself known by marketing yourself. You can’t be afraid to make connections, to show up in your niche and to participate just like the celebrity you are.
5: Build Credibility
Having a podcast builds credibility because you get to showcase what you know. Do plenty of episodes to become established in your niche.
Interview the big shots in your niche and even outside of your niche if it somehow relates to the theme of your podcast. Interviewing experts and celebrities places you are par with those people because they become your colleagues.
Be interviewed. When you’re interviewed on other people’s shows, you’ll build even more credibility as well as reaching new audiences.
6: Showcase Your Endorsements
Let the world and your future guests and listeners know who you’ve had on your show, as well as which podcasters have interviewed you.
Set up a media page on your site where you list each interview you’ve done on other people’s podcasts, along with a link to each.
When you’re pitching someone to be on your podcast, name drop the experts who’ve already been on your show. The very fact that they’ve been on your podcast is an implied endorsement.
In the beginning before you’ve been interviewed or done interviews, make a list of testimonials and endorsements from clients, customers and people on your email list.
7: Build Your List
As mentioned before, it’s best to have a list before you start podcasting to get your podcast off the ground. Then once your podcast is gaining momentum, you can use it to further build your list.
To list build, you will need 5 things:
• An easy to remember domain name. It should be short and catchy, so that when you give it on your podcast, people can remember it.
• An autoresponder. Use whichever one works best for you – Aweber, GetResponse and so forth.
• A landing page. This is the form you’ll place on the URL you give out on podcasts. It should quickly summarize your free offer and ask for their email address.
• A download page. This is where you thank them for joining your list and give them the download, or lead magnet, they signed up for. You can either send them straight from your sign up page to your download page, or if you want to verify email addresses, you’ll send them the link after they click the button in the initial email you send out.
• The actual free report, video, cheat sheet, discount or whatever it is that you promised they could have in exchange for signing up.
8: Here’s How to Approach Possible Podcast Guests
It can be intimidating to go to your favorite guru and say something like, “Hey, you don’t know me, but will you spend an hour being interviewed on my podcast?” Results won’t be too good if you try that.
Later, once you’re an established podcaster with a good reputation, you can approach them cold by letting them know you’ve already interviewed many experts, authors and celebrities in their field. But that’s later. What can you do in the beginning when you’re just getting started?
Here’s what you do:
First, buy their product. Whichever product of theirs resonates with you is the one to buy. Hopefully it’s a product you can actually put to use in your life.
Next, use the product. Read it, watch it, whatever. Implement the advice in the product.
Finally, write to them and let them know your results. “Hey Joe, just wanted to let you know I bought the Bigger Better Butts Fast product and here’s the results I got and thanks so much!” You might ask them a question, too, to make it easy to start a dialog.
You’re showing the expert that you’ve used his stuff and it works. This is powerful for building a relationship because it’s natural. There’s nothing forced or contrived about your approach and it validates the guru, lowering their defenses and allowing you to relationship build with them.
From here you build a dialog and possibly work with them on something small. You’re building a relationship with them for the long term, not just to get a podcast guest.
This relationship has the potential to lead to future work, deals and profits. You could end up interviewing them multiple times as well as being interviewed by them. You might work together on multiple projects. And best of all, you could even become good friends.
This is the attitude to have. Don’t think of it as trying to get in the door to get that interview and then you never speak to them again. Your contacts can be far more valuable to you than simply guests on your podcast.
9: How To Get New Subscribers From Every Show With A Guest
This one is interesting because it’s so simple, and yet people don’t think to do this.
When you invite a guest on your show, let them know they can make an offer to your audience for a lead magnet. If need be, you can create the lead magnet for them. The idea is you will be letting your listeners know they can get a free copy of whatever it is by simply going to a page and inputting their email address.
Now here’s the bit that’s different – you’re going to set this page up yourself as well as manage the list yourself. Remember, every well known person you interview will be bringing some of their own listeners to the podcast, even if they don’t mean to.
When you go on social media and say you’ve just posted an interview with Well Known Expert X, people who like Well Known Expert X will see that and go listen to your podcast, even though they don’t know you.
And you want to capture their email addresses, right?
That’s why YOU make the offer of the freemium lead magnet and you do the work of setting up the page, maintaining the list and so forth.
You also allow your guest to have this list as well. Your guest will be growing their email list with your followers, and you will be growing your list with your guest’s followers. And you both will get new subscribers who formerly didn’t know either one of you but are highly interested in the topic.
When you are interviewed on someone else’s podcast, you can do the same thing, setting up a page to capture leads and sharing those leads with your interviewer. It can even make a good selling point when you’re convincing the interviewer why they should have you on the show.
10: Split Profits With Your Guests
What’s behind the squeeze page that you set up? An offer, of course. Better still, a one time offer of a great product at a discounted price.
Here’s how it works: Your guest provides the content. You’re asking questions, maybe inserting a little bit of your own knowledge, but 90% of the content is from your guest.
You manage the email list like we talked about above. You set up the lead capture page, use your own autoresponder, and share the leads with your guest.
And you make an offer. There are at least three ways to do this:
Method 1: Make the paid offer on the thank you page after the prospect inputs their email address for the freebie. This is the traditional method and it’s effective. The one drawback is you generally don’t get to talk about the paid product too much since you’re simply selling listeners on inputting their email address for the free offer.
Here’s the variation I like: You still sell them on getting the freebie by putting in their email address, but you also let them know there is a very special offer on the other side. I suggest you play with this one and see what works best.
Method 2: Make the paid product offer on the call, in addition to the letting them know how to get the freebie. In other words, “To get your free cheat sheet, go to cheatsheet.com. And to grab this offer we’re making, go to cheatsheet.com/offer.” Something like that.
It’s a little clunky but it works. You can start making the offer of the freebie right from the start of the interview, letting them know you also have a very special offer for them good for only the next 60 minutes, and you’ll be talking more about that later in the call.
Method 3: The third method is to never talk about the free offer on the call. All you talk about is the paid offer. Any traffic to the paid offer that doesn’t convert is shown a pop-up as they try to leave. And the pop-up offers the first module or chapter of the product to try out for free. This converts really well, but of course you get fewer people to the page in the first place because they know it’s a paid product.
There’s also a hybrid model I like: You tell listeners about the paid product, but instead of sending them to the sales page, you let them know you’ve set up a discount for them. To get the discount they input their email address, and they are then taken to the sales page.
All of these models work to varying degrees, and I suggest you play with them until you figure out what works best in your niche.
Profits from the sales are split between you and the person you are interviewing. It’s up to the two of you on what the divide is, but 50/50 is what I recommend because that way no one feels like the other one is taking advantage of them.
However, if your guest is able to bring a large amount of traffic to the podcast, then you might consider giving them a higher percentage to get the deal done.
11: Use A Pilot Episode
This is a trick I learned to get your show on Apple Podcasts (formerly known as iTunes) before you launch your podcast.
Let’s say you want to do a big run up to your podcast, announcing when it’s going to start and generating buzz. That’s all well and good, but iTunes can be unpredictable when it comes to populating your show on their site. Sometimes it happens fairly quickly and other times it can take days.
That’s a problem when you want to announce that your show is going to be available on a certain date, but here’s how you can work around it: Make a pilot episode.
This pilot is going to be numbered “0” and it’s going to be short, maybe just 5 or 10 minutes. In it you will explain who your show is for, the topics you plan on covering and what your listeners can look forward to. Essentially this episode “0” is to sell your listeners on subscribing and listening.
Set your pilot up on iTunes well before launch day so that your Apple Podcasts feed is ready to go when you start promoting it.
12: Get Your Show to the Top of Apple Podcasts and Amazon Music
No guarantees, but this is the method that seems to get the best results on Apple Podcasts. You’ll need to do 4 things to make this work, and it’s worth it because getting your podcast to appear at the TOP of iTunes means lots of traffic and new listeners to your show right from the start.
Here’s what you need to do:
First, send your own traffic to Apple Podcast, like I’m doing here with my own podcast. By sending traffic you get subscribes, and it’s the subscribes that will boost you up in iTunes.
Second, encourage downloads. Subscribers with iPhones will automatically get your podcast as a download, which helps you to get ranked higher. People without iPhones can still help your ranking when they download your podcasts to their devices.
Third, post at least 2 shows each week, at least in the beginning. The second show could be bonus material you have lying around that you repurpose, or it can be an entirely new show. The point is to always have a recent show available, since new shows get ranked higher than old shows.
Fourth, ask your audience for ratings and reviews. While this doesn’t hold as much weight as it used to thanks to people gaming the system, it is still a factor iTunes uses to rank their shows and decide who will be seen by people searching for podcasts.
During your first 8 weeks of podcasting, it’s a good idea to make calls to action to your audience to please subscribe, rate and review. Don’t be afraid to repeatedly ask your audience to do this, both on your podcasts and through email. Your first 8 weeks are truly important on iTunes because this is when you can be featured in the “New and Noteworthy” section, which is a great way to be found by new listeners.
After the initial 8-week period, it’s much harder to climb the charts if you haven’t already done it, so be ready to hit the ground running when you first start podcasting.
13: Sell Subscribers On Listening To Your Show
Think about how much work you put into selling a product – that’s how much effort you should put into selling people on downloading and listening to your podcast, especially in the beginning.
Before you even launch your podcast, consider sending out one of your later shows to your list. For example, if you have a month’s worth of shows created, send them a show from the fourth week. This will get them excited for your show and won’t interfere with them listening to the pilot and the first shows.
Send out reminders before a show hits iTunes and again when it goes live.
Send out teasing bullet points that make people want desperately to listen to your show. Use your best sales copy techniques for this.
On launch day and each day thereafter that a new show comes out, tell your subscribers to go to iTunes to get the new show and to subscribe so they can get all the shows as soon as they are released.
And remember to ask for ratings and reviews to help you move up the charts.
14: Choose the right people for interviews: What to know before you start podcasting…
If you’re doing interviews, it pays to think like a reporter. What will interest your listeners? That’s what you want. What will bore them and make them tune out? That’s what you should avoid.
For example, don’t interview someone who is already being interviewed on a dozen other podcasts. Nobody wants to hear interview #37 from the same guy talking about the same stuff.
Find new people with interesting things to say for your interviews. If you can find experts who have not appeared on a podcast before, that’s so much the better.
Here’s an example: You could interview Joe Business Consultant who has been saying the same things for 20 years. Yawn.
Or you could interview Sally Entrepreneur on how she built a million-dollar business from scratch in the first six months of this year.
You know which one your audience wants to hear. True, it can be easier to get the interviews with people who make a habit of doing interviews. But finding the Sally Entrepreneurs will create brand new material that no one else has and every entrepreneur wants to hear.
15: Keep An Idea Log
If you’re sort of ‘winging’ this and picking podcast topics off the fly, then sooner or later you’re going to feel like you’re running out of ideas.
That’s why you must keep an idea log. Every time you get an idea for a podcast topic, every time you read something that could be used on a podcast, every time you hear about someone that might make a good guest, you’re going to make a note in your podcast idea log.
This log will save your podcast over and over again because you’ll never be at a loss for topic ideas or guests.
Here are just a few places to start getting ideas and what to know before you start podcasting:
• Questions your customers ask
• Complaints and problems in your niche
• Bestselling book titles
• Authors, bloggers and people you meet on social media
• Local experts in your niche
• Completely unrelated media that gives you a new idea in your own niche
• Comments in forums, in reviews and on social media
• The news in your niche
• Things you saw or heard
Ideas are everywhere and you can access them at any time, even when you least suspect you’re about to find gold.
The key is to always be on the lookout for ideas and possible guests, and to write them down the moment you think of or discover them.
16: What to Know Before You Start Podcasting… Lead Magnet Ideas
The lead magnet is what you offer to get people on your podcast to opt into your email list.
You’re probably familiar with giving away a report on your subject to get opt-ins. Combining a report with a super catchy headline along with a follow up campaign can be effective to get people to read that report.
A free issue of a paid newsletter works well.
Daily tips can work for some niches, especially if the person making the tips is something of a celebrity or noted authority.
Offering transcripts can work in some niches. There are people who would rather read than listen to a podcast. Better yet, offer them the ‘notes’ from the show in an abbreviated format. This works especially well if your podcast teaches how to accomplish something.
Cliffhangers are one of my favorite methods of getting people to subscribe. Let’s say you’ve got 60 minutes of outstanding content but your podcast is 30 minutes long. Let them know at the beginning and end of the podcast that you cannot fit everything into the show, and they can subscribe to get the second half. Then end your show on a cliffhanger, such as in the middle of a story. People will subscribe like crazy to hear how the story ends. Let them know, too, what else they will find in that ‘missing’ second half.
17: Be Consistent
If you tell your listeners you’ll be delivering a podcast each Tuesday, then do that. Don’t even launch your podcast until you have a bare minimum of a month’s worth of shows ready to roll. It’s simply too easy to fall behind on making your shows, which is why you always want to plan 3 to 4 months ahead and have at least one month of shows ready roll.
Plan your podcasts. Do your research on your guest and write out your questions. Ask your guest if there is anything in particular they want you to ask. Find the stories in what they have to teach, because people love and remember stories. Be diligent in promoting your podcast via social media and email. And treat your podcast like a business, even if you only work at it a few hours each week. Now that you understand what to know before you start podcasting, there will be no stopping you from finding your voice and achieving great success!
I’m bestselling Wall Street Journal and USA Today author, independent publisher, and serial entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and I would love to connect further with you. If you have an interest in hosting video live streams, even if you’re an introvert, to help you skyrocket your way to success, please check out my comprehensive training for beginners at Video Live Streaming for Introverts so you may get started right away.