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30 Lessons Learned From Publishing 30 Podcast Episodes

30 Lessons Learned From Publishing 30 Podcast Episodes

Stewart Hillhouse
Stewart Hillhouse
  1. The first thing you need to do is record a 30 second Trailer episode. This will help for two reasons:
    • It will force you to write the press release before the podcast goes live. Consider this your elevator pitch for why someone should plug you into their ears for the next 30+ minutes.
    • It will give you an "episode" that you can send to Apple, Spotify, and all the other podcast players to get the startup process going. It takes a few days for them to hook the pipes up and approve your show. All you need is a single episode to get approved.
  2. Use your name as part of your podcast title. Podcasting, just like SEO, is a long game. Don’t let this opportunity to fill Google up with useful info attributed to your name go to waste.
  3. Use large lettering so people can read the name of your podcast. Remember, this is going to appear as a teeny tiny square on someone’s phone screen. Make it stand out.
  4. Pick a colour and a font and start using it anytime you think “I need some branding”. You'd be surprised how much more professional you'll be perceived by having brand consistency.
  5. Make it an interview show (or at least have a co-host). Half the fun in starting a podcast is getting to co-create with people who you have something to learn from.
  6. Practice by interviewing someone you admire and have access to. This episode doesn't need to be shared, but I'd recommend practicing with a no-risk guest to start. Being a host requires muscles you have likely never used before.
  7. Use LinkedIn and Twitter to find cool people to be guests. Start by letting the recommendation algorithm suggest people. Eventually, begin to curate your list as your niche becomes more defined.
  8. When adding people on LinkedIn, make it about them. “I’m looking forward to seeing your content and learning more about your work” is going to get you connected way more often than “Please add me to your network”.
  9. The real magic of LinkedIn and Twitter happens in the DMs. Have conversations with your connections and look for ways to contribute before you make your "ask".
  10. But the deal closing happens over email. For some reason the DM folder just doesn't carry as much weight as an email in their inbox. Take it to email when you're ready to book a guest.
  11. Look for guests that are also shipping content. For two reasons:
    • They will have an appreciation for what it is you’re doing. They might even have an audience they’d be willing to share with (but don’t count on it).
    • They will have interesting points of view that are easy to find as jumping off points for your conversation.
  12. Get a scheduling app as quickly as you can to book guests. Don't try to schedule things manually - meetings will get missed and guests will be annoyed. I use Calendly.
  13. Don’t make your guest do any work. Don't make it a burden to be a guest on your show. Rule of thumb: don't ask them to do anything that will take longer than 30 seconds.
  14. Make it an "Easy Yes" for the guest. In your communications, explain why doing the interview will provide them with valuable and relevant content for their work.
  15. Do your research. Spend some time reading posts that your guest has made or listen to other podcasts that they've recorded. Store your questions in a Google Drive folder and have them ready to go well in advance to the interview.
  16. Don’t try to be like Tim Ferriss or Oprah. Asking non-famous people about their past isn't that interesting. Talk about their current work and how they're thinking about it.
  17. Look to Twitter and LinkedIn for interview questions. Look up your guest's most famous tweet, the best LinkedIn post they've had that month, or whatever their last blog was about. Those topics are fresh in their minds and gives them ammo to talk about something they’re familiar with. Who knows, sometimes you might get some new insights from what they have to say.
  18. Ask the dumb question. Even if you’ve been in the industry for decades, asking people to clarify acronyms, explain concepts, and ask "why?". This will  generate an exciting response from your guest. Your listeners will appreciate it.
  19. Have prepared questions, but try to be conversational. I typically have between 6 and 10 solid questions prepared. I usually only get 5 of those answered. The rest of the conversation stems from natural conversation.
  20. Your podcast will likely suck for the first bit. It’s hard to host a conversation, but you’ll get pretty good by episode 15. Keep striving to up the quality.
  21. Systematize your process ASAP. Create a system for editing, file storage, and a publishing ritual as quickly as possible. Consistency is key, so pick a day of the week where your episode ships out and stick with it.
  22. Use a transcription tool to turn the episodes into notes. Transcribing your audio unlocks the value from the episode, making it usable across many platforms. Consider the transcript an 80% already done blog, LinkedIn post, or any other type of written content. I use Descript to edit and transcribe my show.
  23. Distill your knowledge and publish your new discoveries. Playing the role of a journalist in the field is really fun. And the best part: you don’t feel like an imposter because you’re repeating what others have said and keeping the best parts for yourself.
  24. Stay in touch with your guests. The network you develop through the podcast are your new Internet Friends. Support their projects, send them DMs, intro them to new people. If you release an episode a week, you’ll have 52 new friends and fans. Not many adults can say that they’re actively making new friends.
  25. Don't pay attention to your analytics. If you can manage, don't even look at your podcast listenership for the first few months. If the numbers are small, you'll feel discouraged. If the numbers are large, you'll get nervous. Better to just focus on being consistent for your first year. Worry about growing your audience later.
  26. Go on other people's podcasts as a guest. This is something that took me a while to start doing, but I've really enjoyed it. It allows you to share what you've learned, promote your show to another audience, and see how other's are producing their shows. Great way to find ways to improve your show.
  27. Start collecting testimonials as they appear. There will come a time when you'll want to add a testimonial page to your website or for a campaign. Better to have a bunch on hand rather than needing to go find them. Take screenshots of people speaking positively about your show and store them in a file for a rainy day.
  28. Do everything you can to build momentum. And nothing builds momentum quite like consistency. Find a cadence that works for you (start weekly and adjust as necessary). Ship at the same time every week.
  29. The secret to content is not making it big – it’s about laying a foundation for bigger things. If this is your first time building an audience, it will take longer than your thought, but will lead to more than you could have imagined.
  30. Have fun! In my case, I sometimes find myself taking it too seriously. At the end of the day, it’s a voluntary activity. And if you're not having fun, then neither will the guest or the listener. Make it your own and don't be afraid to evolve over time.

If I were to tell you my Top 3 from above, it would be #9 (The real magic of LinkedIn and Twitter happens in the DMs), #21 (Systematize your process ASAP), and #29 (The secret to content is not making it big – it’s about laying a foundation for bigger things).

Alright, enough reading about starting a podcast – time to take action! Record your Trailer episode and get your first guest scheduled. Let me know when you do.

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