There's a lot of excitement that surrounds your very first podcast. Especially when it comes to launching those first few episodes. But the process leading up to the launch does take a little bit of time.
If you're reading this right now and you're thinking about starting a podcast, let me share with you some of the things that you will encounter as you lead up to the launch of your First episodes.
There are plenty of websites and movies that explain the concept of never being good at something the first time you do it. In fact, I experienced this concept back in 2014 when I started to feel ill with heart pains and back issues.
I knew that I had to start eating right and get daily exercise, but I was afraid to go to the gym in fear of what the others might think of me. Then one day, I was sitting in front of my computer and my leg fell asleep and my heart felt like it wanted to explode. From that moment on, I made it a point to learn how to eat vegetables (if you knew me, I hated all vegetables up to that point) and get daily exercise--even if it was for 15 minutes a day.
I remember walking into the gym on the very first day and barely being able to do 15 minutes on an elliptical trainer. But there was really no other option for me at that point. Either I lived in pain or I lived in pain and potentially died.
So every single day I made sure that went to the gym and ate a meal other than cereal and Doritos.
In fact, those first gym visits were seemingly the most embarrassing, but most crucial to building a habit.
About a month into working out, I was staring off into the distance and noticed a few individuals who were lifting heavier weights than what I had seen them do before. Then it dawned on me that they had to start somewhere and were probably not as great lifting when they started.
They have learned and grown.
Then I took a look inward while I was on the elliptical machine and realized that I had gone from 15 minutes to 25 minutes without feeling like I was going to collapse. My body started to gain coordination and balance after that month and I was starting to breathe better. Everything changed because of one thing:
I started building a habit to becoming better.
The reason I am explaining this to you is because this is how you are going to be with your podcast. You are going to do everything in your power to tell yourself that you aren’t a great presenter, suck at editing, don’t know what to research, don’t know how to grow an audience, etc.
The truth of the matter is that if you haven’t ever done something or you’ve rarely done it, you’re likely going to suck at what you’re doing and IT’S COMPLETELY OK!
All I’m asking you to do is to get up and get started. So if your first recordings suck, don’t worry. They will get better.
There’s a really great scene in the film, The Matrix, where the insightful leader, Morpheus, explains to Neo that he needs to “free” his mind of all doubt. As he’s explaining this concept on the top of a building, Morpheus turns around, runs full-speed toward the edge of the rooftop and suddenly--and inconceivably--leaps from one building to the next without falling to the ground.
Clearly a skill that Morpheus had worked on before being good at it.
The lesson was to have Neo leap from the same building to the next by trying, learning to fail forward and get better. And of course, upon trying, Neo fails miserably and doesn’t even come close to reaching the next building and falls to the street.
As Neo’s peers watch from from outside the Matrix, they all agree that “everybody falls the first time,” before they have freed their mind of any misconception that is shackling them to preconceived beliefs.
This lesson is true for life.
If you can’t figure out what your podcast is going to sound like by not trying, you’re never going to be able to learn how to create the podcast and get better. Trying opens the doors of learning and opportunity a little wider if you keep trying.
I can promise you that you will get better if you keep trying and pumping out new podcasts.
Your very first episode should be the one episode where you break down the expectation of what people will hear when they listen to your podcast. Keep in mind that as you start to build out episodes, you will have more content that will be binge listened.
It’s no secret that in the world of 2018, people would rather consume mass amounts of content if it’s really great and available. But remember...
People listen differently, so it's best to always have that first expectation episode. Label this as episode 00 or 000 (three zeros if you know you're going to podcast for a long time).
000 Welcome To (Name of Podcast)
This episode should only be about 5 minutes long.
Don’t worry about the first episode being the ultimate epic episode. We have to get listeners to your podcast first before anything else. You’re still figuring out how this whole thing fits into your overall game of creating a podcast, so don’t worry about making the first episode crazy amazing.
As you continue to podcast, the format of your program will definitely change as you start to do more of them. You will realize that as you do more podcasts, the core of what you do will be the same. In other words, whatever makes the recording and editing process a little easier on you will evolve over time.
There really isn’t an ultimate format to how you should should start your first podcast, but it's best to stay organized so the listener understands the journey you're taking them on.
The style and length of the podcast intro isn’t a hard rule, but it's always good to start out with a welcome message and any calls to action that you want to make. Then give the audience a brief breakdown of what they will hear before you jump into the content. Your introduction could look something like this:
"Thank you so much for listening to XYZ podcast. I am your host Brian Johnson and I can't wait to jump into today's topic.
Today we'll be discussing the benefits of exercise and how it can help boost your mood. Things people struggle with most is mood and today I have tips to share that will help you be happier.
Don't forget to jump over to Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts and hit the subscribe button. And don't forget to leave a rating and review to get the podcast in front of more eyes. It's very appreciated.
OK, so let's dive in! As I mentioned earlier, we would be focusing on exercise and mood..."
From there you would jump into your topic/interview/whatever.
It's important to stay consistent with this introduction every week because you never know who will stumble upon your episode. There may be that time when you don't mention those calls to action and your listener has no idea how to further put themselves in your universe.
Those first 20 seconds of the intro will determine whether someone is interested in knowing more. It all becomes behavioral on their end as they start to hear the same message delivered over and over.
The moment you want to add a different call to action, say, to a t-shirt you want them to buy, they know you're putting a seed out there for them to purchase something.
Also, don’t think that the same introduction exists in a vacuum. You have to remember that your introduction is going to be a piece of content that will live on forever. So always keep the incoming, NEW listener, in mind when they stumble upon your program for the very first time.
There’s going to be the likely chance that you will not get a ton of downloads to your podcast other than your friends and maybe your mom.
This is totally expected.
But understand that if you haven’t already built out an audience of potential new listeners on social media or within your current network, you may not get as many listeners as you thought you were going to get.
Your first few episodes will likely not get as many downloads as you think, but that is completely OK.
What I want to make clear here is that releasing a podcast doesn’t have a magical algorithm or some type of sorcery that is going to get you a million downloads. And please don’t be misled by podcast marketers out there who say you can get your first 5000 downloads in a few days.
What those people aren’t telling you is that they have done their work ahead of time, built an active audience on social media and have leveraged their email marketing list/chat bot to drive people to listen to their podcast.
I have seen podcasts get 1000 downloads in a week after launching their first podcast and grow slowly from that point forward; while others started with 20 downloads a week and eventually grew to have 250,000 downloads a week in less than a year.
Creating an audience does take time and work. Remember, if you’re starting from scratch, you will need to climb to the top of the mountain.
Don’t worry about anyone else’s success because your podcast success is dependent all on your efforts.
One of the things I have heard from super successful podcasters is that they have asked for a genuine share at the beginning of a podcast episode and at the end of the podcast episode.
There’s no better perception of honesty when your audience can hear that you put a lot of work into your podcast. In today’s listening age, most listeners realize that a podcast is self-funded and that it’s not easy to create great content every week.
As a podcast host, you should intrinsically understand this and be willing to mention to your audience to share your podcast out with 5 of their friends.
I have heard podcasts sound stuffy and over-professional thinking they don’t need to ask their audience to share their program. However, the ask is probably the best thing that you can do.
When Jimmie Whisman of the Small Town Murder podcast started, he mentions that he and his podcast partner grew their audience by simply asking their current listeners to “share this podcast with 5 of your friends to help spread the word.”
Surely enough, they were starting to see traction on Twitter when they were mentioning this inside of their podcast.
As a podcaster, you should always be asking for help from your audience because if they are invested in you and your content then simply pressing a “share” button isn’t too much to ask for. After all, you never know who will stumble upon your podcast and subscribe to your programming.
So always be asking your audience to share. It takes no more than a few seconds for you to say it and for them to share it.
If you hang around me enough, you’ll learn that I’m VERY persistent and insistent that podcasters learn how to harvest qualified emails onto an email marketing program like Mailchimp, Aweber, Convertkit or wherever.
As a note, I would do a Google search on effective ways to start an email list, but as I tell all of my clients, an email list of 1000 actively engaged members will help support your cause if you’ve done it right.
So whether you have an email list or you don’t, the objective of your first podcast is to get the subscription to download the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play or Spotify.
What you will be looking for right out of the gates are people to be a part of your universe.
Think of your podcast like the first time you invite someone to your house that you like a lot. Typically when we enjoy the company of others we allow them further into our lives and this might mean we invite them into our homes.
Since we consider our homes our own sanctuary, it takes a lot of trust for us to invite that person into our homes beyond the door. But the feeling is also mutual for the other person as well.
If you are a great host, offer a glass of water, food, a comfortable place to sit along with great conversation, that person is likely to subscribe to coming to your place because you’ve made it a welcome place.
When the day comes that you want to invite that person over, you typically communicate with them in some way, and if they enjoyed the last time they were at your place, they will have likely show up. In other words, they’ve subscribed to you and your company.
As a podcaster, this really isn’t any different when you first launch your podcast. The goal is to make your listener feel comfortable on the first listens of the podcasts you will release. But, the difference here is that you will want to make it a point to ask the listener to subscribe to your podcast.
Those subscriptions are very similar to how your new friend’s behavior may be when you send them a text to come over. In this case, when you release a podcast episode, you’re asking them to subscribe so that when you release the next episode, their phone will notify them when you have a brand new episode.
It will be your goal to be a great host that provides value in your piece of audio before you can get your audience to trust you. What’s even more important is to get the subscription to your podcast right out of the gate.
There’s nothing that frustrates me more than hearing a podcaster say they want to be in the Top 100 or New and Noteworthy on Apple Podcasts.
I mean, who doesn’t want to be in the Top 100 podcasts, but I want new podcasters to focus on building an audience of targeted listeners who will be your biggest fans that will sing your praises.
At this point in time, it’s not really clear on how podcasts get pushed into the Top 100 of Apple Podcasts. If you Google “how to get in the Top 100 podcasts on iTunes” you’re going to see conflicting accounts.
I've seen everything from people saying that one guy runs the podcasting department all on his own to actual mathematical formulas to how you get ranked.
PLEASE DO ME A FAVOR AND IGNORE ALL OF THIS.
When I attended Podcast Movement a few years back, the topic of being in New and Noteworthy and the Top 100 was still a mystery to seasoned industry leaders.
The advice that I share with my clients and people who send me messages on my YouTube channel is that they should be building an audience of targeted listeners who know EXACTLY what they are going to get when they listen to your podcast.
Worrying about being in the Top 100 should be the furthest thing on your mind.
Focusing on becoming a better podcaster should be your FIRST PRIORITY.
Don’t fall for the bait you read online about ranking your podcast because I would much rather have 2000 engaged listeners as opposed to 50,000 disengaged listeners who connect with me on a deeper level.
I am currently consulting with a few different business owners about their own podcast. As I have walked them through the process of getting started with a podcast, they have mentioned to me, “Those first few episodes don’t sound really great and I’m not sure they should be up there.”
Statements like these are ones we tell ourselves all of the time and they are typically the statements that paralyze us from actually launching a podcast. What you have to remember is that precision comes from years of practice and evaluation.
You will need to ask yourself, “How am I supposed to see my progress if I don’t release the episode that isn’t perfect?”
Believe it or not, I still have recordings of my first air shifts in radio and they sound HORRENDOUS.
In music radio, you are only limited to about 45 seconds of actual talk time. Program Directors want you to get in and out of your talk break, but I certainly wasn’t like that in my first few air shifts. In fact, some of my talk breaks were more like 2 minutes and 45 seconds--way beyond what I should have been saying.
But as I progressed in my radio career--and understood how the platform worked--I learned what my audience was looking for and learned how to hone my speech delivery.
Everything you do is going to have a growth period and will never stop growing if you nurture the thing you want to see blossom and bloom.
My advice to anyone I work with or anyone who comes across my content is to leave your first 10 episodes up on your feed so that your listeners can see how your program can grow and evolve over time.
Not only will listeners see this, but you, as a podcaster, will feel the difference in your interview style, your content creation, your editing style, etc.
If you have any other questions on what to expect when it comes to launching your first podcast episodes, please leave a comment down below.
Or, if you have any other tips on what to expect, I’d love to hear those too!
Whether you're feeling inspired to make a podcast like mine or you're just trying to figure out where to start, my FREE PDF GUIDE will show you where to get started in under 15 minutes.
Shannon will share his 18 years of radio broadcasting knowledge and show you how strategies in radio relate directly to podcast creation and strategy!