The Formula for Creating a 1,000,000 Download Podcast

February 26, 2014 - Get free updates of new posts here

Howdy everyone. A few months ago, my friend Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income interviewed me for his podcast. Little did I know that podcasts are a channel with significantly less competition than blogs and a fervent subscriber base that is LARGE in masses.

Think about it… Most blog posts you skim while having 30 tabs open or find intentionally via a Google search. And Youtube videos are based on when you want a solution to a problem but with most people listen to podcasts consistently and generally devote their undivided attention during the entire time.

While at Awesomenessfest I heard my friend James Schramko speak about all the tools and techniques to create and grow a successful podcast. Blew me away. It was like a foreign language. James was nice enough to put it all in a simple checklist for OkDorks (can we start calling each other that?) to take advantage of. Take it away James.

Below he’ll show you The Equipment You Need, How to Create Content, How to Publish, and How to Get Your First 100 Listeners.

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Enter James Schramko

I used to record interviews and stream them on my sites before I knew about iTunes podcasting.

One day two guys called me up and asked me to be on their ‘show’. I spoke to Tim Reid and Luke Moulton for Small Business Big Marketing and it went out to nearly 20,000 people that download their podcasts.

Straight after that my course (mentioned on the show) started selling like crazy. Tim was so intrigued he asked me to start a podcast with him.

FreedomOcean.com was born… Tim and I took to the airwaves with a new show and it quickly became a favorite.

With over 5,000 downloads for some episodes we were able to drive a lot of sales.

We drove more than 50,000 clicks to my products and $100,000 in sales so far from the first 70 episodes. The podcast also helped to drive over 1,400 email subscribers with a 34.1% open rate. Not too shabby.

Once I realized podcasts had huge amounts of quality traffic, I quickly submitted my existing blog to iTunes and turned all my streaming interviews into a Podcast.

SuperFastBusiness.com is my main blog (where I interviewed Noah while he was eating breakfast).

From the podcasts I have generated over one million downloads, which have contributed to more than a million dollars in sales per year.

Total podcast downloads

Paypal stats from SuperFastBusiness for 2013

Some real proof of sales coming from content marketing. In particular see how stable your income can be without paid advertising, without affiliates and without launches…

* * *

 

I showed you some results of a podcast, now let me show you the exact no-fail checklist to get started…

The Equipment You Need to Create Your Podcast

This is where I record most of my podcasts at home
The mic I use most is the Rode Podcaster USB mic. I use a shock mount, it’s that little elastic cradle that it sits in and a swing arm to bring it in right close to where we’re talking and that’s a USB powered microphone, plugs straight into your computer. It’s the easiest to use, the best quality sound, best value price, super reliable and I highly recommend that for home podcast.

Equipment List

Required

❏ Rode Podcaster USB Mic

❏ Sennheiser HD 25II Headphones (or iPhone headphones)

❏ Macbook Pro

❏ Skype (free)

❏ Call Recorder for Mac

❏ Screenflow or Garageband

Optional

❏ Rode Swing Arm

❏ 27 Inch Screen

❏ Rode Shock Mount

❏ Order the Rode USB Mic, Arm, Mount as a Kit

❏ Stedman Pop Shield

❏ 1TB Harddrive for recordings

This is my mobile setup
If you want to travel around a lot you can just use the Rode SmartLav iOS Mic. It plugs into your iPhone, iPad or Mac and I have recorded plenty of interviews just on that.
I’ve even recorded on the road by wrapping it around the sun visor.And if you got a little windsock it’s also good outdoors.

Equipment List

Rode SmartLav iOS Mic

Windshield (for outdoors)

iPhone

Auphonic App (free)

TIP: Pay attention to the sound

Sound quality is very important when people put headphones on. You want to sound great. If you record with another person on skype you can both record at your end, and if the line’s patchy or broken up, we take the separate recordings and join them back together later on, that’s called a double-headed recording.

Noah’s Note: Better Quality Podcasts are easier to listen to. And there a ton of amazing mics out there. In addition to James’ list, here are some others that have been recommended to me HEIL PR-40 (not USB, needs Interface) and the new BLUE Spark is a good USB. Also for Interfaces/mixers: Scarlet 2i2 – 2 Channel mixer or Audio Technica ATR 2100. Personally I like Blue Snowball USB microphones like this one.

Also if you’re worried about cost and want to validate your podcast first, you don’t have to buy all equipment now (renting is an option) – try before you buy on a “shoe string” budget. Or use your iPhone or Android.

* * *

 

How to create content for your podcast

What format works best?

SuperFastBusiness is an interesting podcast where I have long form interview podcasts, like I do on ThinkActGet and FreedomOcean, they might be 40 minutes, it is often two people. I also mix in three to five minute videos that we strip out the audio and turn into a podcast. This can be done automatically using a software tool called Auphonic.com (Free). More of my favorite tools in a bit…

All different episodes were popular. The one with Noah Kagan has had more than 7,071 listens. Now if you were to calculate the cost of getting those cost per clicks with paid traffic, or Facebook ads, then it would actually be expensive.


The overwhelming outcome here is that high volume, even if they’re short, is going to gain more overall listenership. It’s literally five times more powerful having a higher frequency, and it doesn’t even matter if they’re not long episodes.

Dynamic Duo Mistake!

Beware of the Batman and Robin format. That’s where one guy’s like the boss and the other one’s the assistant. That’s how FreedomOcean started where I was the expert, and Tim was asking all the questions like the Robin. “What about this?” “What about that?” And now it’s turned more into a different type of show, because we ran out of genre with that. Tim didn’t want to continually play the guy asking the questions, and I totally understand that. It was easy for me to always be the expert,
harder for him…


Build your portfolio

In the marketplace other shows pop up underneath your show. One great way to leverage a podcast is to have another podcast. And obviously the audience will jump around between your own show and your joint show.


Podcast Format Interview

Now here’s a podcast format interview, and I have to give some credit to Dan Andrews from Tropical MBA. We include a funny audio grab (This is a snippet from within the podcast that is deemed to get the most reaction such as controversy or laughter) to hook the listener before the intro (The intro is a a professional-sounding bumper that we get recorded by a radio professional. People sell these on Fiverr). We then insert a little narrative
about the episode, what’s the title of the show, the topic, we tease what’s coming, we make a joke – we try to, if we were funny, we’d make more. Content, which really is the meat of it…

Potential Format Checklist for your Podcast

❏ Funny Audio Grab

❏ Intro Bumper

❏ Narrative Intro about life this week in general

❏ Topic for the show specifically

❏ Tease what is coming in this show

❏ Joke or two to get some vibe

❏ Content delivery of the show topic

❏ News and updates

❏ Listener comments from the website and facebook

❏ iTunes reviews people left

❏ Action Tips a listener can implement

❏ Outro music to end the show

A consistent format is the foundation for success. Pick one that you’re happy to roll through each time. It helps to write it out like I showed you ours above.

Debate if you dare

The best interviews I’ve had are where I bring on a guest, and I did this with Pat Flynn and I did it with Derek Halpern, where I have a bit of a debate with them, put a different point of view to them and ask them about that and I get their reaction on it. These were wildly popular episodes.

It really made them think, and it turned the interview into something more magical for the listeners. Ask something no one’s ever heard before.

How to produce an amazing audio track?

I have some intro and outro bumpers for my shows. They sound fun and professional. Many people sell them on Fiverr.com and also podcaster specialists market them. I use Dan Lyons.

Read Comments

On the air I’ll read comments from the blog or listeners dialing in via SpeakPipe. It’s been very very good and lends itself well for audio mediums. People just record, and then it gets put into your file, we download it, we play it back on air and then we respond to it.


Notes Versus Transcription?

I do transcriptions for my other shows but it’s more expensive and it takes longer. I think the easiest way to get started is to have show notes which is just bullet points summarizing what’s talked about in the show.

Noah’s Note: I’ve had some good success with speechpad.com for affordable and quick transcriptions.

Getting Interviews

If you want people to have you on their show, tell people that you’re available for an interview. Just put it in your P.S. subject line and tell them “Hey, if you’ve got three episodes, I’d love to do an interview with you” and do this for everyone else that shows up under your show.

Noah’s Note: Here’s an email (click to view) I got for a podcast interview request that was awesome and encourage you to use:

Get your guests sharing

And when you interview famous people, put a picture of them and add a quote and stick that out on social media pointing back to the shows.

Email List Building Ideas

You should definitely try to have an email list since you don’t get email access with your podcast listener’s emails. SumoMe.com from the AppSumo guys (thanks Noah) has been helpful with collecting more emails. Your list is extremely helpful in sending out reminders to all your audience besides just iTunes / Stitcher sending updates to your audience.

Underneath the podcast on your site, let people download the resources you talk about or a PDF of the show. This gets wild opt-ins. I recommend LeadPages which has leadboxes to make this easy.


Encourage people in your email / people click on an icon that takes them to iTunes so they can get on to that subscription feed.

Some people don’t even have an iPhone or an iPad yet so they need to be able to stream it from your site (using the Blubrry plugin or Soundcloud) or download it to their computer. (TIP: Every time I’ve removed this, I’ve had complaints so it’s better just to put it up there.)

Get your next interviewees from your guests

And ask your guests: Who else would be great to have on the show? This is a great way for you to get extra guests referring each other.

Retro Fit Your Blog Today

TIP: you can actually reinstall a current blog to iTunes. Just get out your microphone and talk some of your blog posts and then add it to iTunes and you’ll have a show right now.

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How To Publish Your Podcasts

Have your own platform. I’m really big on this and it has paid me big dividends. We build podcast websites at SuperFastBusiness. Just install Blubrry Powerpress plugin on a WordPress site. It’s free and it will guide you through setting up iTunes. Every time you do a post, then your episode is published. You only have to submit it once ever.

It’s great to host your podcasts on Amazon S3

How to submit your podcast to iTunes the manual (harder) way

  1. Open the latest version of iTunes.
  2. Click the iTunes Store button, in the upper-right corner of the iTunes window.
  3. From the top navigation bar, click Podcasts.
  4. From the Podcast Quick Links section, click Submit a Podcast.
  5. Follow the instructions on the Submit a Podcast page.

Auphonic is amazing

Auphonic is a wonderful app that will pretty much replace a sound engineer. It will balance and level different speakers, it will remove background noise, it’s that good and it’s free. You can record straight into your iPhone, into Auphonic with your Rode smartLav and then upload it to your Amazon account or Libsyn account or Dropbox account.

In fact if you make Videos, you can upload it to Auphonic, it will use a pre-set configuration and add a (preloaded by you) start and end audio or video bumper, export the video AND the audio to your destination/s of choice (dropbox, Amazon S3 or SoundCloud) ready for going live. You can literally podcast from your iPhone and be published without any engineer or middle steps.

Here’s your checklist to get your podcast off the ground and live in iTunes:

❏ Open a project dropbox for everything to be placed in as you go

❏ Identify your target audience

❏ Create a premise for your show

❏ Decide if you need a partner

❏ Name your show

❏ Register a domain name

❏ Create an image artwork 1400 x 1400 for the show

❏ Have a favicon created for your website

❏ Buy hosting for your website

❏ Have intro and outro sound bumpers created

❏ Create your mobile responsive WordPress website

❏ Add your Email name capture offer / form

❏ Add a social sharing plugin like social sharing toolkit

❏ Install Blubrry Plugin for WordPress

❏ Open a free account http://stats.blubrry.com/ to track your downloads

❏ Write your about page text

❏ Add Disqus commenting system

❏ Draft some show notes / questions / format

❏ Get your best microphone ready

❏ If using Skype get a call recorder ready

❏ Create your first episode

❏ Edit your episode and add your intro and outro bumpers

❏ Run the final version through www.Auphonic.com to clean up the sound

❏ Load your audio to an Amazon S3 bucket or create an account with Libsyin

❏ Create your first post with title, show notes, MP3 embed and picture

❏ Publish your post

❏ Submit to iTunes

❏ Bonus: Submit your show to Stitcher which comes standard in many car radios now.

Tada, but how do you get listeners. If you talk it, will they come? Let me show you exactly how to do that.

* * *

 

Checklist to Get Your First 100 Listeners

❏ Email your mailing list if you have one

❏ Update your signature in your email provider (Gmail) to include the podcast

❏ Share via email, Google+, Facebook Profile, Facebook page, and Twitter

❏ Update your Twitter profile page

❏ Share your post image on Pinterest

❏ Share in Facebook groups you belong to

❏ Buy Facebook Ads targeting a narrowly defined audience (look for a post on OkDork about how to do this soon)

❏ On LinkedIn you can share in groups, status and to all your contacts

❏ Email your customers (including all emails via Paypal) and ask them to rate your iTunes show

❏ Ask website visitors to share and comment

❏ Submit your podcast to Stitcher

❏ Post to relevant forums

❏ Update your forum signature file

❏ Create a press release about your new show

❏ Create images with quotes to share on Instagram

❏ Submit guest posts to popular blogs in your industry

❏ Record episode 2 as fast as possible. It’s been shown if you can release your podcasts all within a certain period of time they are more likely to get shown on new & noteworthy in iTunes.

❏ Contact other podcasts in your category and be interviewed on their show

❏ Interview all the other podcasters in your category

❏ Ask the guest to share the episode they appear in.
(Here’s how I ask them in a non-annoying way – send a short email/Facebook message to the episode and say “hey [Name] our episode is out – you were awesome, thanks for spreading the word”)

❏ Contact everyone you would like to interview and ask them to be on your show

❏ Repeat the syndication each time (email list, social shares)

Get to talking!

James Schramko is the founder of www.SuperFastBusiness.com, grab his free course Own the Racecourse.

Leave a comment below and share your favorite podcasts with a link. I’ll buy one commenter a Blue Microphone Snowball USB Mic.

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34 responses to “The Formula for Creating a 1,000,000 Download Podcast

  1. Greg Gibby Reply

    This post is comprehensive. I will clip this into evernote.

    My favorite podcast this week is The Moment with Brian Koppelman
    http://espn.go.com/espnradio/grantland/player?id=10512147

    My favorites vary between Freakonomics, WTF with Marc Maron, Smart Passive Income, James Altucher Show, BS Report with Bill Simmons, Bullseye with Jesse Thorne, Filmspotting, Escapepod, The Drabblecast, This American Life, Writing Excuses, The Moth and The Accidental Creative. I only included one link to trick the spam filter. These podcasts can be found with white belt google-fu.

    I listen to about two or three a day at 1.5 speed when I’m driving or cooking or shoveling or gardening. As you can see in the OP, the best podcasts have a specific voice. They have a consistent message and purpose.

    Really enjoyed the post. Thank you.

  2. Garrett Carrara Reply

    WOW! You know what is amazing about this post and interview? This would have been a $497 course a few years ago – ALONE! James asks great questions, and I almost dropped my coffee on the “fake wife” comment.

  3. Nick Kizirnis Reply

    Thank you, James, for this fantastic article! And thanks Noah for bringing James in on this. I couldn’t believe it when I saw my email this morning. I’ve learned a lot from James, and today I’ve learned even more!

    Favorite Podcasts – my two long-time favorites have been Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast, and Jason and Jeremy’s Internet Business Mastery. I have learned so much from these podcasts. I want to let everyone know about another podcast I really enjoy and get a lot of value from, it’s Pat Flynn’s new AskPat daily podcast where he takes a question from a listener/reader and answers it in 10-15 minutes. It’s really well done, and the short format makes it perfect for listening during quick commutes, walks, etc.

    Thanks again!

    Cheers,
    Nick

    1. Pat Flynn Reply

      Thanks for the mention (twice!) Nick, you rock! Look out for your question that you submitted on the show soon actually ;)

      Thanks Noah and James, you both are awesome!

  4. Jon Stroker Reply

    This is an awesome post… and I’m intrigued by how easy it sounds to hop on the bandwagon here and give this a try.

    I used to be a loyal listener of Adobe Photoshop TV, an awesome podcast located here: http://kelbytv.com/photoshopusertv/

    While I haven’t given a listen in quite some time, I loved how every single podcast showed mostly self-taught Photoshop users like me how to do cool things that I could apply to work I do on a weekly basis.

    Thanks again – great post!

  5. Paul Clifford Reply

    Fantastic post. James’s stuff is simply awesome.. one of the few who is growing their online business using big business principles.

    He got me into podcasting too.. and its becoming the core traffic driver of my disruptware.com business.

    The other great thing is it really starts to position you as an authority in your market and enables you to connect with leaders you would otherwise not be able to reach.

    thanks for posting this Noah.

  6. ilias diamantis Reply

    Excellent post .

    The mobile setup was a real eyeopener . I never thought I could use my iPhone for podcasting .

    Thanks James ,

    Keep up the good work !

  7. Sean Markey Reply

    Wow! Great resource. Thanks for the inside view, James. And thanks to Noah for hosting.

    My favorite podcast would have to be the Tropical MBA podcast. Dan Andrews (along with James Schramko) is a bit reason why I started my own podcast, and it has been FANTASTIC.

  8. Pablo Garcia Reply

    GREAT POST JAMES!!!

    It arrives just in time. I’m thinking about to start my podcast since one month and half ago. You short my way. You remove all my excuses in one post. Thanks a lot!!!

    My favorite Podcast is 10xTalk (http://10xtalk.com/) with Joe Polish and Dan Sullivan. Check it Out, You’ll LOVE IT!!!

    Again THANKS A LOT, YOU MAKE HAPPY MY DAY!!!

  9. Trent Dyrsmid Reply

    Noah,

    I’ve recorded 100+ episode of my podcast and have had some of the best and brightest as guests….and despite that, I still learned a bunch from this post….so thank you!

    In particular, I was surprised at how short some of James’ episodes are….but the frequency thing makes total sense. More episodes = more itunes reviews = higher ranking in the store = more listeners, etc…

    I’d love to have you as a guest on my show. My audience would love it even more. Let’s make it happen :)

    1. Liz Nofziger Reply

      Trent, I’m a big fan of your podcast. You have a great interview style and your guests always sound like they’re actually having fun. I’d love to hear you and Noah talk!

  10. Lily Ann Fouts Reply

    Awesome post. I’ve been thinking about starting a podcast and this post has put me a step closer to actually doing it, and giving me the exact details for how to start! Thanks, Noah and James! My favorite podcasts are:
    Extra Pack of Peanuts – http://www.extrapackofpeanuts.com/category/podcast/
    Thinking Atheist – http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/podcast
    Amateur Traveler – http://amateurtraveler.com/tag/audio-travel-podcast/
    and Smart Passive Income – http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/category/podcast/
    May your days be taco-filled!
    Lily

  11. Michael Young Reply

    Wow. Another great post. I think you must be psychics as this is exactly what and when I needed to read this. I was just banging through the thesaurus trying to come up with the perfect name for the podcast that I plan to kick off in April and found this in my email. This has consolidates all the knowledge I need to get going and then some. The checklists alone are invaluable.

    Plus with the official okey-dokey of Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas you know this is the shizzle.

    Besides Pat Flynn’s show I never miss Michael O’neal’s Solopreneur Hour. I recommend it to anyone going out on their own or trying to understand those that do.

    Mahalo for the continued killer goods.

  12. Hollis Carter Reply

    Great post timing with this has been superb!

    I had recently had conversation with my good buddy Ezra Firestone who is James’s partner on one if his podcast, and he convinced me to get in to the podcast game. I have been avid listener of many shows the one I am most addicted to is the Joe Rogan Excperince and many others.

    I have been on a bunch of shows anpbout biz stuff and always saw massive spike in traffic from interviews I did with Pat Flynn, John Lee D, and Andrew Warrner.

    John Lee D big thanks for your course went through this weekend and starting two show now one with a partner and the other solo.

    Watching this stuff take off is interesting especially with all the IM ppl getting involved now… Can’t wait to see this evolve.

    Big thanks James and Noah for putting this together

  13. Pablo García de la Fuente Reply

    I´m launching my own podcast this week. I´M FOLLOWING THIS BLUPRINT. I´M REALLY EXCITED ABOUT IT. As you can see in the previous comments, I was excited already the first time. I NEED YOUR SUPPORT THIS PODCAST IS A GAME CHANGER FOR THE WORLD.