Here is everything I have learned about starting out as a podcast host with a social mission. These notes & top tips are curated from the below training courses I’ve completed which are focused on using podcasting for interview/storytelling…
Podcast Strategy & Set-Up
Strategy > Strategy building questions for envisioning & designing your successful podcast. Podcasts are a hugely expanding market, with more than 700,000 podcasts available through a variety of different platforms. Given how saturated this space is, the big question is: What can you do to make your podcast stand out?
“Often, people fall at the first hurdle by not having clear vision for their podcast” Louise Kattenhorn, BBC Producer
What’s your podcast name?
💡 Make your podcast title stand out against all others in the listed category
How would you describe your podcast?
💡 Tell your listeners what they are going to get (don’t make it a biography). Use this space to talk about previous guests etc (See podcast description templates below)
What’s your vision for your podcast?
Example: To become a popular/top listed podcast for changemakers and social impact entrepreneurs. Written about in the media as an award-winning podcast. Shared by listeners. Attracting great guests; people my listeners and I can learn from
What do I want listeners to get from listening and what do I want them to do next?
Example: To feel empowered and to book on my free webinar for further learning
What’s your preferred podcast format?
Self-host or co-host
Interview vs solo or both
Length - 💡 Where will your listeners listen to the podcast? This should inform your length decision. Not all podcasts need to be the same length. 10–12 minutes is a nice bite-size
Frequency (daily, weekly, monthly or other)
Audio vs video
How many people do you want to reach?
Example: To reach 5,000 people by the end of 2025
💡 Industry average 200–300 downloads per episode
How will your podcast stand out as being different and more exciting?
Example: I will offer a Q&A format. I will ask my guest to share something they’ve never told anyone. I will use ice-breakers with my guests
💡 Research your customers. Ask them to have calls with you to tell you what they think is new and exciting for them
💡 Consider batching your episodes into seasons
💡 Why not record your first episode (000) as an “About Me” episode
How long are you committed to doing your podcast for?
Example: At least 100 episodes
💡 93% of podcasts don’t go past episode 7. The first 8 weeks are crucial for getting your podcast into the new and noteworthy charts
How much money do you want to make each year from your podcast?
Example: £10,000 — £20,000 per year minimum
What does your recording schedule look like?
Example: One day per month. Record four interviews in one day
What’s your launch plan?
💡 John Lee Dumas Top Tip: Launch with 3 shows
What categories will you feature under? What keywords will you use to be found?
💡 Keyword research tool: https://kwfinder.com/. You can also do Keyword and competitor research inside iTunes
Set-Up & Software > Top tips for podcasting tech and getting set up for podcasting. For my own podcasting set up, I use the Samson Sagomic Go Mic Clip-On USB Microphone. It was the best choice to travel with.
Podcast Description Real Examples > Here are examples from other aligned podcasts in my category of ‘Changemaker & Impact Entrepreneur’. It’s a good idea to take 20 descriptions from podcasts in your category and place on the same page to use as a reference guide when writing your own description.
— “The changemakers podcast presented by CityCURRENT shares personal stories and insights from those who are giving back and making a difference so we can learn and do the same. We cover life lessons, business advice, passion & purpose. Share the ways you’re making a difference using #changemakers”
— “A weekly podcast hosted by Charlie Whyman featuring interviews with innovators, disruptors, change-makers and curious thinkers wanting to make an impact in the world and help others The goal of this podcast is for you to take away at least one thing that inspires you to lead change in business, be it improvements in process and leadership, the motivation to get started, or ideas on people you can collaborate and work with to support you”
— “Welcome to Changemakers, a Mastercard story lab series about employees who have become a force for good in local communities. Join hosts Anthony Venutolo and Vicki Hyman in discovering who they are and how they are making a difference in the lives of people around the world”
— “Changemakers feature individuals who seek to benefit Hong Kong. In six episodes, Queenie Man speaks to different inspirational guests on their journey of making a difference. Perhaps they can influence you too… The show airs every Saturday morning”
— “Young Changemakers — We share the stories of fearless young people working to create lasting change in their communities. We interview young changemakers from across the world about their motivations, ambitions and lessons learned along the way. We’ll show you the incredible impact of youth and that you too can make a difference”
— “We The Changemakers — Join Ani as she explores what little (and sometimes big) things each of us can do to change the world into a brighter, more beautiful place. Follow on Instagram. Email your stories”#
— “Impact Hustlers — Impact Hustlers features entrepreneurs and changemakers solving the world’s biggest problems and creating massive social impact. Hosted by Maiko Schaffrath this podcast shares the stories of those who connect impact with profit and business and solutions that solve problems such as climate change and poverty” “Learn how entrepreneurship can be the solution to the world’s biggest environmental and social problems”
— “Social Entrepreneur — Social Entrepreneur exists at the intersection of profit and purpose. We tell positive stories from underrepresented voices, focused on solutions”
— “The Tony Robbins — Impact Podcast — This podcast is a series of interviews and personal stories of transformation from events and programs of Tony Robbins”
— “Ways to change the world — Channel4 News — How can you change the world? Join Krishnan Guru-Murthy and his guest of the week as they explore the big ideas influencing how we think, act and live”
Guest Interview & Storytelling > Top tips for great interviewing & storytelling from Alex Blumberg of My American Life
Guest Research, Pre-Interview & Crafting a Story Narrative
“There are key three ingredients to a good podcast: a strong issue or topic, a solid format and great hosts to bring the discussion to life” Jason Phipps Commissioning Editor for Podcasts at the BBC
Find someone with direct experience (e.g. not an expert but someone with direct experience/relationship with the story you want to tell)
“Don’t find the person who wrote the book on the thing but find the person who did the thing” Alex Blumberg, My American Life
2. Pre-interview your guest to seek out the story that most wants to be told 3. Use the notes from the pre-interviews to determine a storytelling pitch as a way to guide the guest interview
Examples storytelling pitch format…
“I am telling a story about X and it’s interesting because of Y”
Example 1: “I am doing a story about homelessness and it’s interesting because it turns out that the hardest parts of being homeless are things you’ve never thought of”
Example 2: I am doing a story about the dinner party question, “Would you rather have the power of flight or invisibility and what you would do if you had that power?” What’s interesting about this story is that nobody ever says they would use that power to fight crime
Guest Interview > Make your interview enjoyable for all
Always ask your guest if there’s anything out of bounds which he/she would prefer not to talk about. Ask for permission, “Do I have permission to ask anything / go anywhere I need to in order to make this the best interview possible?”
Ask lots of new questions (questions your guest may not have been asked before), create a safe space, make sure your guest feels heard. Don’t be overbearing. If you make your guest feel great about themselves they will want to share their interview with others
Model the type of storytelling/input you want from your guest to set the energy/storytelling standard
You want your guest to be thinking and talking about their feelings
Successful audio storytelling should paint a vivid picture in the minds of the listener
Example: “Can you remember where you were when you came to this realisation? What was different?”
What Makes a Good/Terrible Story? > Keep your listeners engaged in the story/interview
All successful storytelling needs a point of realisation, a conclusion, a punchline or a moment of reflection
Something has to change in the story to move it forward — Every 45 seconds to a minute, something new has to happen in the story (emotion, turn, energy etc)
Tell the story in detail, arranged in order
Tell the guest story on behalf of the guest and use the live interview to ask further questions (This is why pre-interview is important)
Use clear & simple language, limit the use of jargon. Simplify and clarify for the listener’s benefit (e.g. “In other words…”)
The interviewer should indicate where the story is headed and comment on where the story has been
Audio is the most honest medium. It is a prime medium for emotional honesty and connection. It’s important to bring this emotion through in your interviewing
Remember to be in touch with your own confusion and your own boredom to steer the interview for a better listener experience
Deliver information in an entertaining way. Don’t be afraid to laugh or joke
Give a reason for the listeners to keep listening
The story is too familiar
The punchline isn’t good enough or the interviewer doesn’t get to the punchline fast enough. Also if the punchline is not enough of a revelation
Tell the stories out of order
Putting the punchline first
Lewis Howes Podcast Process > The process/checklist that Lewis Howes uses for his Podcast. Copied directly from Lewes Howe’s Process Worksheet. See process worksheets here
Guest Research Paying attention to the following…
Background & interesting points from before they were well known
What they are known for?
What are they doing currently?
Social media presence/what they are promoting?
Think about what your guest wants to promote and talk about
What do you want to learn from them?
What do you have in common?
What is most interesting about their story?
Make sure the audio quality is as good as possible. Test the quality before diving into the interview
Ask if there is anything off-limits not to be discussed
Set time expectation
Focus on authentic, vulnerable connection over scripted Q&A
Let the conversation go where it naturally flows
Thanking Your Guest
Prep your guest to share the podcast with their audience
Give them an expectation for when the podcast will go live
Ask your guest if they know anyone who would want to come on your show/be a good fit
Editing & Sharing
Edit out coughs, pauses, repetition, tangents, etc
Create show notes with quotes, interesting points, and links
Mix in bumper music, intro, and outro with sponsor ads
Schedule social media posts on every platform announcing the episode is live. Share interesting teaser lines or clips
Notify your guest that the episode is live. Send the link and pictures (say thank you again)
Identify which other platforms would be interested in the episode and reach out to offer to write a post about it for them
Monetising Your Podcast Sponsorship There are two ways of getting paid by sponsors. Further info: www.eofire.com/podcast-sponsorship/ and at John Lee Dumas — A Step by Step Guide for Launching your Podcast
Pay per click (per acquisition)
Per number of downloads
💡 Sponsors want to see at least 5k downloads per month
Where to find sponsors
Look at competitors or aligned podcasts and look to their sponsors
Advertise on Midroll for sponsorship
💡 Why not create a podcast to sell your own products. You become your own sponsor
Podcast Monetisation Case Study
John Lee Dumas from EO Fire used the following to monetise his podcast in the early first three years of its launch.
This list is in order of the lowest to the highest level of income (In year 1–2 this was in reverse)
One to one coaching
2. Membership Mastermind
He sold pre and mid-roll packages (60-second spot at the beginning and in the middle of his podcast) He also sold an outro package (30-second outro) gaining $3.5 - $4k per episode from each sponsorship
Industry Standards for Podcast Sponsorships:
*Information accurate as of 2015 (date of training course)
15-Second Pre-Roll = $18 per 1000 CPM’s (listens)
60-Second Mid-Roll = $25 per 1000 CPM’s (listens)
5. Products Sold his product, ‘Podcasters Paradise’ (2,600 people registered - $3.3million in revenue)
💡 Only upsell a maximum of two products that aren’t related to the podcast