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

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


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. 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. 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…

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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


❏ Rode Podcaster USB Mic

❏ Sennheiser HD 25II Headphones (or iPhone headphones)

❏ Macbook Pro

❏ Skype (free)

❏ Call Recorder for Mac

❏ Screenflow or Garageband


❏ 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)


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.

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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 (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 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 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. 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 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 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.

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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, 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.