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Want to Grow Your Podcast? Here’s How One Tiny Company Did It

Graphic courtesy of Steve Goldstein

Guest Post by Casey Helmik, President of Terra Firma

It’s early 2020 and no one truly understands how big the global pandemic of COVID-19 is going to become. I have developed a podcast network — primarily focused in the religious genre of content — that is reaching roughly 75,000 unique listeners a month. Because of the strength of that network, my small production company is now being booked to produce larger independent shows. In 2019 our podcasts received just shy of 4,000,000 total downloads. In 2020 our independent podcast production requests were sky-rocketing, in part because of the virus-triggered lockdowns and in part because of executing good work the year prior. We were on trajectory to double our project workload in 2020 and I began to realize just what I had on my hands:

A Big Problem.

For those of you who read about entrepreneurship (or listen to a few podcasts about it), you are fully aware of the moment in the entrepreneurial journey I was facing as founder: Scaling Ourselves Directly To A Painful Death. This was me in June 2020 — growing so fast that the systems allowing our small production group to run Converge Podcast Network and a handful of independent shows successfully were the very things causing us to fail at real and sustainable growth. There was major opportunity ahead of us but the keys to unlocking the growth didn’t seem to be in my portfolio.

One of the hardest things for founders to do is to recognize their own deficiencies. While I struggle with this, I knew enough to know that I had gaps in my entrepreneurial vision and I began having discussions with a few key people…

Read the rest of the article here.

How To Be Amazing and Leave Them Wanting More

Three Simple Rules To Make Your Podcast Successful
  • Tell the Truth
  • Make it Matter
  • Never Be Boring
Questions to Help You Edit

Why should you listen to this?
Why would someone want to hear this?

The Best Podcasts:

Inform Entertain Inspire Persuade Connect

The best conversations come from listening. When doing an interview listen and make the interview more of a conversation.

Making Engaging Content

When you are telling the truth and being transparent, you can share your opinion on a topic and ask your audience to share theirs.

By asking a specific question it’s easier than “send me some feedback.”

When delivering content you should be doing one of the following:

  • Inform
  • Entertain
  • Inspire
  • Persuade
  • Connect
Place Your Listener in the Movie

Try to work visual words into your podcast. Help trigger the theater of the mind.

There is a framework called the Story Spine from Kenn Adams that is used by many storytellers it is:

  • Once upon a time there was ___.
  • Every day, ___.
  • One day ___.
  • Because of that, ___.
  • Because of that, ___. (and so on)
  • Until finally ___.
  • And every day after that ___.

Growing Your Podcast

When you are on other platforms, be amazing and leave them wanting more.

So many people go to other platforms (like Clubhouse) and tell them to come to the podcast.

If you bring amazing content to the conversation those same people will ask you where to find more of you. 

It all starts with being Amazing.

Ready To Start Your Podcast

If you’re worried about sounding stupid, getting lost in technology, spending too much money, the School of Podcasting can help you avoid all that.

To hear the entire interview click here.

How to Get Booked on Podcasts

From Host of Badass Digital Nomads Podcast, Kristin Wilson

I receive cold emails every day from people looking to book themselves or their clients on my podcast. But ultimately, less than 1% of those who inquire ever make it onto the show. Why so few?

My podcast may be small compared to someone like Joe Rogan or Tim Ferriss, but podcasting is more intimate than other forms of digital media. Downloads, demographics, and subscriber counts don’t matter as much as the quality of the content and the bond between the audience and the host.

My listeners trust me to deliver value to them each week, and I don’t want to let them down. I’d rather record solo episodes for life than waste their time (and mine) with a lousy guest.

Likewise, no self-respecting podcast host will compromise this sacred relationship so you can score a new backlink from their show notes. So if you want to get booked on podcasts, here are the biggest mistakes to avoid and what to do instead.

Mistake #1: Sending a Generic Copy-and-Paste Email

The single most effective thing you can do to increase your chance of getting booked on a podcast is to send a customized email to the host that communicates two things:

That you’ve listened to the podcast before.

That you’re a good fit for the show (and why).

If you only change one thing in your approach to getting on podcasts, stop sending cut-and-paste emails. Write something thoughtful and personalized instead.

If you send an email that looks like it belongs in the spam folder, that’s where it will go. I’ll go over one example below as a case study, but you know spam when you see it (or send it).

Mistake #2: Hiring a Podcast Booking Agent

Podcast booking agents charge upwards of $350 per episode or $15,000 per quarter to get you booked on podcasts. While they may have some success, I don’t recommend going this route.

When a podcast booking agent emails me, it’s a sure sign that the guest doesn’t care which podcasts he or she ends up on — it’s a numbers game to them. That almost guarantees that my audience and I will have to suffer through ho-hum, uninspired talking points, and packaged stories. There’s also a good chance that my listeners have already heard them before on a different podcast.

Take the example of an actual email I received from a podcast booking agent.  I’ll dissect why it didn’t work.

What’s “bad” about it?  It was a cut-and-paste email that was probably auto-sent with software. The only fields that appear customized are the recipient name and podcast name.

Even the title was generic: “Hi Kristin, I’d like to introduce you to someone.” Then, there are other problems:

It’s too long. No one wants to read a block of text this long from anyone — let alone in a cold email.

It’s too general. Advice on “networking” and “self-care” is too vague. And what does going “all-in” mean?

It puts the burden on the podcast host. To move forward with booking this person, I would have to research and vet him, then come up with a way to align his message with what my audience cares about. That’s way too much work when there are plenty of people I already know I want to talk to. She also sent me his calendar link rather than asking about my availability.

Lack of original stories. The agent refers to her “favorite anecdote,” which leads me to believe that her client uses the same stories and talking points on every podcast. Yawn.

If you have the financial resources to hire a booking agent, that money would be better spent hiring an in-house freelancer or VA and giving them a company email address. You could also delegate podcast outreach to an existing employee who knows you and your company well. That’s the strategy that Bonjoro, a video email marketing company, used to successfully get their CEO on my show.

What makes Bonjoro’s email unique? First, it was short, polite, and to-the-point. It also came from their in-house growth manager, who took the time to find common ground with my show while displaying a general understanding of my content and audience. She then suggested topics we could talk about that were timely in the context of current events (the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic). She also chose an appropriate email subject line, which gets the point across without being presumptuous: “Possible Podcast Guest — Badass Digital Nomads.”

Bonjoro probably sent some version of this email to multiple podcast hosts, but they seemed genuine. After chatting with the CEO and his team over email, I had him on the show. It went great.

Mistake #3: Making It All About You

If you’re cold pitching someone to be on their show, talking about how great you are is not the best way to make your case. Instead, try to find common ground with the host and audience. Use specific examples to portray how your experience and accolades can provide value or entertainment for listeners.

Rather than thinking of a podcast guesting opportunity as a promotion or sales pitch, consider how your journey can inspire and educate others. What is the outcome or transformation someone will experience after listening to your interview? It should be more than building your email list.

Case Study: How to Write Your Podcast Pitch

Medium writer, Anthony Moore, did a great job of communicating his value as a podcast guest in an email he sent me.

His message is brief, personalized, and to-the-point:

“I’m writing to you because I would love to be considered as a guest on your show.”

He conveyed that he has listened to the podcast — referencing a specific episode that he found valuable.

He found common ground in his productivity struggles as a traveling digital nomad.

He explained how he overcame his struggles as an entrepreneur with numbers, facts, and measurable outcomes.

He suggested topics that make sense for us to talk about and relate to my audience.

He vetted himself with links to media and his one-page media kit/bio.

He was cognizant and respectful of my time.

Podcast Booking Tips From Experts

“We have to recognize it is a huge privilege to show up in front of someone else’s audience” — Tarzan Kay

Copywriting queen and “mother of emails,” Tarzan Kay, knows a thing or two about getting booked on podcasts. She’s scored guest spots on shows like EO Fire and Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield. Her two top tips include:

Go out of your way to stand out. Do something untraditional like sending the host some funny socks in the mail or making a custom GIF.

Make it a win for the host. Research the show you want to appear on and then get creative. Build a custom freebie around the host and his or her audience.

Liam Martin, the founder of Running Remote conference, has been on hundreds of podcasts (including mine). I asked his assistant, Vaishali Badgujar, how she’s so successful in booking him. She said:

Chase quality over quantity. Reach out only to podcasts where you can provide and get value. Study the podcast and learn about the audience to discover how you can contribute.

Make a strong pitch. Suggest a couple of topics and explain how they add value to the podcast’s audience. Also, include a one-page podcast resume or press kit.

Follow up if you don’t hear back. Include more details about how you can contribute.

A Few More Words of Advice

When it comes to booking yourself (or others) on podcasts, strive for quality over quantity, and give more than you take. If you treat podcast interviews like one-night stands, you’ll be left equally unsatisfied.

Instead, show respect for the amount of time and money (lots of money) it takes for hosts to research, plan, prepare, record, produce, edit, polish, distribute, and promote a single podcast episode. Show good faith and do your homework.

Also, consider what you can do to build a long-term relationship with the host. Follow and engage with them on social media. Share their work on your profile or endorse them on LinkedIn. Think about how you can add value, communicate how you’ll do it, then deliver when the time comes.

Make the most of the opportunity to speak to someone and their audience for upwards of 90 minutes — for free. Podcast guesting allows you to amplify your brand, share your message, build your business, and spread goodwill at the same time.

7 Podcast Interview Tricks for Leveling Up Your Technique

From Don’t Panic Management’s Lee LeBreton.

There are all kinds of ways to be a great podcast host.

No, you don’t need to have the megawatt extroversion of a late-night TV personality.

You don’t need years of experience as a hard-boiled investigative journalist.

All you need is to be able to greet your guest and audience with the best, most authentic version of yourself.

Set yourself up for success using these simple strategies for creating engaging podcast interviews.

  1. Find Your Software Soulmate

Today’s podcasters have an abundance of podcasting tools from which to choose. They also love to debate which of the most popular options—which include Skype, Zencastr, Zoom, and others—is objectively the best.

In reality, the “best” podcast interview recording software for you is the one that balances audio quality and ease of use. Some podcasters prefer Zencastr’s multi-track recording feature, some prefer to combine Zoom with Camtasia’s recording capabilities, and others value the ubiquity and familiarity of Skype. Whatever minimizes friction between you, your guest, and your production team (which may also be you!) while meeting your quality standards is your software soulmate.

  1. Expect the Unexpected

Capturing clean audio from two different locations simultaneously isn’t foolproof, of course. But there are several preparatory steps you can take to mitigate recording hiccups.

Start by communicating your recording guidelines to your guest in advance of the interview: find a quiet indoor location, use a stable internet connection, silence devices, avoid speakerphone, etc. Yes, your guest is being generous with their time, so you’re right to think twice before demanding they fill out a five-page pre-interview survey and learn a new software platform just to get on the phone with you. But they won’t consider you a tyrant for requesting basic etiquette.

Have a software backup at the ready (see above for a few popular options). Be on the lookout for interruptions that require a quick reset versus what can be solved during editing. Persistent static or clicking can be a serious challenge to edit out, whereas word fumbles or passing sirens are relatively easier to remove.

  1. Get Your Nancy Drew On

Reading a first date’s CV before meeting for coffee would be pretty creepy. Researching your podcast guest, on the other hand, is an essential part of being a great podcast host!

Make sure you’re clear on the basics, like the correct pronunciation of their name, job title, pronouns, etc. Be familiar with their recent work and background—asking for a short bio can help with this. And though we said earlier that a five-page pre-interview survey may feel off-putting, a shortlist of questions is a great way to spark interesting talking points.

  1. Nurture That Rapport

A warm, easeful rapport between guest and host is a major key to podcast success. You don’t need a longstanding relationship with your guest to create that ease—even small points of connection can help you both relax and deepen your conversation. As you research your guest, look for shared points of view, passions, or points in your origin story that might offer these opportunities to connect.

Between logging on to the call and kicking off the interview, you may also want to spend a minute or two loosening up by chatting casually (rather than talking shop) with your guest. Remember that our ears pick up all kinds of auditory cues in human speech, including whether or not the speaker is smiling, and listeners will detect if you’re stiff or relaxed.

  1. Create Your Hiking Map

Sure, many podcast hosts conduct interviews without any written outline. A few prefer the opposite: sticking to a specific list of questions and deviating as little as possible. Most successful beginning podcasters, however, will avoid these extremes.

Consider your interview guide less like a linear outline and more like a hiking map. Unlike an outline, a map allows for tangents and alternative conversation routes. This approach allows you to stay present with your guest and embrace opportunities to riff or go deeper while still keeping you on task.

  1. Push for Specifics

Details make an interview sparkle. Podcast guests speaking on their area of expertise may be so used to operating at a high level of fluency with their subject matter that they forget to offer specifics. It’s your job to prompt them to get concrete.

Stay alert for opportunities to jump in and ask for a recent example of the trend they just mentioned or a brand that exemplifies the concept they just referenced. Ask for their favorite tools and strategies for doing what they do. These details will help your episode stand out, rather than rehashing the same talking points your guest has touted all over the web.

  1. Make Your Podcast Interview Process Repeatable

Why reinvent the wheel each episode? Turn the emails and outlines you find yourself recreating over and over again into templates. When it’s time to prep for a new guest, simply customize that form email, refresh that interview map, and revisit that library of favorite questions.

These resources and workflows will also make it even easier to delegate these nitty-gritty production tasks when and if you decide to bring on a helping hand. And what post about podcasting wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that several of us here at Don’t Panic are expert podcasting sidekicks.

While you won’t find a “hack” to nailing an interview every time, you can become a more engaging interviewer with practice. Commit to leveling-up your host technique using one (or more!) of these tips.

Unofficial bonus tip: Set yourself a reminder to listen back ten episodes from now to appreciate how your skills have developed—then celebrate!

For more from Lee LeBreton:
https://www.dontpanicmgmt.com/author/lee-lebreton/

Landing a Guest Interview

Thanks to Guest Columnist Kelly Glover – The Talent Squad

Landing a couple of podcast interviews is a great start to a podcast guesting strategy but don’t stop there! Earned media is cumulative (and SO valuable). Here’s a super-fast Podcasting Pitching Plan in 5 steps to give you a process & keep you on track.

1. Decide on Your Goal. Add Metrics 

Start with the end in mind. What action do you want the audience to take as a result of hearing your podcast interview? Add metrics. Once your recordings start getting published you can measure, assess, recalibrate, rinse & repeat.

2. Topics & Talking Points

Package your genius into pitch-ready talking points the media will love. Pitching a topic on its own won’t work. That’s way too broad! You’ll need to go deeper and really extract your genius. Turn them into topics that you could imagine seeing as a bestselling book title. You’ll need to write a scroll-stopping subject line for the email too. Your goal here is to grab enough attention to get that email opened.

3. Draft your podcast pitching list

After you’ve done a lot of pitches you’ll quickly be able to work out your pitch-to-booking ratio. This is important so you know how many shows to send to in order to get the booking. It’s not a one-to-one game. The first step is to research and create a pitch list so you can vet each show to the podcasts you’ll actually pitch. When doing your due diligence, there’s a lot more than just having a lot of Insta followers. There’s a lot of moving parts here so once you figure out your personal vetting process, make sure you document, add to a grid, so you can track, cross-check and verify!

4. Personalize your pitch

This is a crucial step of the podcast pitching plan. Customize every email. There’s no place for blasting out a copy & paste email. This isn’t off-the-rack, it’s bespoke! Podcast hosts absolutely hate it when you pitch them and don’t have a clue about the show. This is a highly personal process (as are podcasts). It’s manual and takes time but the payoff is worth it! Shallow host references are also a turn off so be authentic and make sure your pitch copy is a true reflection of your personal brand. This will be be a nice integration & complement to your podcast one sheet and online press kit. Personal branding is key!

5. Have a fantastic follow-up system in place

Set up a logical system to follow-up. You already have your pitch grid for easy tracking. It’s rare to do a cold pitch and get an instant yes. If that happens you’ve hit the podcast pitching jackpot and should celebrate. For all those other times, you’ll need to check back with the host and producer (without being annoying). At the Talent Squad, we call it professional persistence. I suggest checking to see if and when the e-mail was opened before you do any follow-ups so you know how to craft the next set of coms.

Good luck getting booked!

Bringing You Lessons from Top Podcasters

Gimlet podcasts from Spotify are heard by millions each month. Its slate of mostly narrative-style shows are known for their engaging content that keeps listeners coming back for more. Gimlet co-founder Alex Blumberg shares what he’s learned, gained from his years of working in audio. You too can produce podcast episodes that entertain, educate and connect with audiences on an emotional level.

Click here to access the lessons on Spotify. (free signup required)

Mastering the Art of Podcasting

At Podcast Movement 17 in Anaheim, Dot Cannon interviews Valerie on Becoming a More Powerful Podcaster.

“Podcasting isn’t easy,” says international broadcast consultant and author Valerie Geller.

But, she says, if you love doing it, that won’t stop you.    And if you’re producing a podcast, she can tell you exactly how to make it a magical experience for your listeners.

Click to Listen to the Entire Podcast.

How to Produce a Podcast

Thank you Simplecast for contributing this guest blog.


What goes into getting a job as a podcast producer? Being a podcast producer can be a very rewarding and creatively challenging role. Before you start applying to a bunch of producer jobs though, you first need to understand what it is they actually do. The role of a podcast producer is multifaceted and can vary depending on the person’s experience and the type of podcast their managing. To explain what we mean, we’ve outlined some of the responsibilities a podcast producer typically needs to take on for their job.

Production Management: Imagine everything that goes into making a podcast. Coming up with ideas, managing the production schedule, and strategizing how to promote the show can all fall under the podcast producer’s scope of work. The podcast producer is the person who oversees the process of developing the podcast and makes sure things are running smoothly.

Guest Research and Scheduling: Alongside managing the show, podcast producers are also responsible for finding guests to join the podcast. This includes administrative work like calling, emailing, and scheduling the guest, but it’s not limited to these tasks. The podcast producer wants to ensure the guest fits with the overall style of the podcast and so they will do their best to prep the host and guest before the show. They’ll pre-write interview questions and guide the guest on specific talking points.

Audio Management and Editing: Managing the podcast’s audio is probably one of the most important parts of a podcast producer’s role. They oversee recording, editing, and distributing of each episode.

Analytics Tracking and Reporting: The producer can monitor podcast metrics, like the number of downloads, listener demographics, and listening times, to make improvements to how the podcast is structured and produced. These analytics may need to be shared with other team members or sponsors and the producer is responsible for providing these reports.

Leadership: Lastly, they’re responsible for interacting with a lot of different people on the team and ensuring that everyone’s work aligns. This requires a podcast producer to be able to take on a leadership role to support the podcast’s host and team.

If you want to become a podcast producer and don’t have any experience in the areas we listed above, that’s okay. You’ll need to develop these skills with time and we’ve got some resources to get you started.

How to Develop Your Skills as a Podcast Producer

Start learning about the podcasting world

If you don’t have any experience with podcasting, it’s time to brush up on your knowledge. You can begin by learning from some fellow podcast producers. For example, The Podcast Dude is a professional podcast producer who has a podcast that helps people understand the ins-and-outs of becoming a podcast producer (aka Aaron Dowd, who you’ve probably seen around the Simplecast site!). Pat Flynn, another podcaster, has a YouTube series where he walks people through the process of setting up a podcast. These videos are a great resource for understanding the technical sides of podcast production and can quickly get you setup with recording. Once you learn more about podcasting, we recommend you start your own! This is the quickest way to gain hands-on experience and get a better understanding of the different aspects of podcasting. Plus, if you enjoy the process of making your own show, you know this is something you’d enjoy doing professionally.

Spend time recording, editing, and working with audio

A podcast is nothing without its content, and to make great content podcast producers need to know how to record, edit, and manage audio. Are you familiar with how to use microphones, audio interfaces, and soundboards? If not, study some of the tools that are available to you for capturing audio. Do you know how to record great audio in both studio and live environments? Read a bit about different recording environments and the equipment you’ll need for both. If you’re looking for online resources, NPR has some great training guides for audio producers, including a guide on identifying bad audio and another on training your ears to identify audio problems in recording and editing.

Get comfortable learning audio editing software

As a podcast producer, you’re going to spend a lot of time working with audio editing software like Adobe Audition, ProTools, or Logic Pro X. These tools are known as Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) and they are professional grade audio editing software that podcast producers use to mix, arrange, and edit audio. You’ll have to pay for most of these tools, but using a paid DAW is worth it in the long run. Also, if you’re not sure which one to start with you can always try free versions to get a feel for how each platform works. Next, start playing around with whichever DAW you end up with and get comfortable editing audio by watching some YouTube tutorials on how to make your audio sound better.

Learn how to develop great podcast content

Have you ever noticed that some of your favorite podcasts seem to follow a flow or storyline? This is intentional, of course! People love stories and incorporating stories into audio is a great way to engage with an audience. If you’ve never written a story before, try brushing up on your skills by coming up with a few podcast episode ideas and writing out the scripts. This will be useful in the long run when you need to craft episodes or brainstorm ideas for a podcast.

Get involved in podcasting groups

If you’re new to the podcasting world, the quickest way to get involved and learn is to meet people who are already in the industry. You can easily join podcasting groups online at Facebook (New Podcast Creators, She Podcasts, Podcast Movement, Podcasters Support Group, Simplecast Members Forum), LinkedIn (Podcasting Enthusiasts), or Reddit (r/podcasts). If you live near a bigger city, you may find some podcasting events on Eventbrite or Facebook Events as well.

Build your role

Today may be the first day you start learning the skills to be a podcast producer, but becoming good at anything is a process. As you develop your skills as a podcast producer, you’ll gain knowledge, confidence, and the ability to make an awesome show. With this in mind, don’t wait around for a podcast producing job to magically appear. Instead, start making podcasts on your own and use what you make to build a strong portfolio. Stick with it, and you’ll be on your way to becoming a professional podcast producer.

Thank you Simplecast for contributing this guest blog.

Creating Powerful Podcasts

Anyone can talk, so hosting a podcast should be easy, right?
If you’ve tried it, you know it can be a harder than it looks.
Are you doing a scripted podcast? An interview type podcast, with one or more guests?
Perhaps you’re doing a podcast in hopes of expanding your brand or creating more business?
Or maybe you’re hosting an audio blog – expressing your thoughts and sharing your stories…
Whatever type of podcast you’re doing – the essence a powerful communicator is storytelling.
I work with broadcasters and podcasters throughout the world. Many have found the following Powerful Communicator Principles to be helpful.
· Speak Visually – in terms a listener can picture
· Start with your best material
· Podcasts are pre-recorded. They last forever online. Make them perfect
· Never let anything go too long
· Listen
· Always ask: “Why would someone want to hear this?”
· Address each listener individually, use the word “YOU.”
· Stay Curious
· Relax, let natural humor happen
· Be who you are
· Take Risks.
If you find this useful, you’ll find more in the “Beyond Powerful Radio – A Communicator’s Guide to the Internet Age” book.
Finally, the top three principles of becoming a more powerful communicator:

  1. Tell the truth
  2. Make it MATTER
  3. NEVER BE BORING.