HUGE Guide of Podcast Launch Strategies For 1,000,000 Downloads, Sponsor Money, and Celebrity Status

Quick Links related to my podcast process:

  • I’ve tested 10+ show notes services to compare cost versus quality. Nothing has beat these guys. The transcription is the most accurate and (conveniently) also the lowest cost.
  • Scheduling guests is the most time consuming/difficult part of my podcast process. I use these guys to propose time to guests automatically, confirm times with guests, and reduce back and forth and followup emails between my guest and I.

Click here to subscribe to my Podcast on iTunes (now over 4m downloads as of March 2017). Google play here.

This article is the easy, selfish, and totally ruthless guide to winning the “Podcast Game”.  It starts with the streamlined approach I take to scheduling guests using this tool (I’ve tried everything!). The tool does something extra special even after making scheduling easy – It helps me send email reminders to guests when their show goes live. The way the tool does it drastically increases the likelihood that your guests actually promote their show!

Update November 28th, 2016: I’m now 490 episodes in and just passed 3m total downloads

I know because I did it starting with launching my show on iTunes in August 1st 2015. I recommend you read this article then click here to find an episode you like, listen to it, and see if you can figure out how I’m implementing this entire article on my live shows.

As of May 5th, 2016 my show hit 1,600,000 downloads (in the first 8 months), hit #1 in New and Noteworthy almost instantly, and reached 30,000 downloads in the first 30 days.

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 4.15.51 PM

I played the game, I won it, and in the process I discovered that the industry has major problems.

Many people are selling snake oil to podcast sponsors because they want to make a quick buck and its threatening the entire industry.

This Google Spreadsheet is the secret place where the worlds top Podcast hosts privately share download numbers, sponsorship revenue, and more data with each other in an effort to bring efficiency to the podcast market. To join, you must share your podcast data. Click here for immediate access.

Sponsors are getting frustrated from wasting money on podcast hosts who have gamed the system. New hosts who have amazing content are getting discouraged because of stupid games other hosts are playing with rankings and download numbers.

These strategies you are about to learn are dangerous, because they work, and at the same time THREATEN the entire industry.

Study them so you learn how to buck the trend.

Here’s what you’ll learn in this article:

Part 1: Do you want to influence the masses like a celebrity, drive 1,000,000 downloads, or get rich very fast using your podcast?

  • Engineer your way to 1,600,000 downloads, 100% guaranteed
  • Screw your listeners, want to print $10,000 per month in cash from your show?
  • Quickly build influence like a celebrity

Part 2: The launch strategy I used to hit 75,000 downloads in 45 days

  • 6 launch strategy steps I used that many podcast membership courses never teach 
  • Getting your first 5,000 downloads
  • Fast way to get on New and Noteworthy
  • Why smart podcast hosts pick the logos they do (hint, nothing to do with pretty design)
  • How to get top ranked show spending only 12 hours per month
  • Unsexy things other podcast hosts will kill me for revealing
  • How to get listeners to binge listen to your show like they do with Netflix House of Cards
  • Why you MUST re-post every podcast episode many times

Part 3: How to beat out other podcasts tweaking very little things over the long term

  • The very simple and super cheap podcast recording setup I use
  • Focusing on 12 week trailing download numbers per episode
  • Making your shows easily consumable, like an Oreo cookie

Read until the end and you’ll fully understand my data shown in this graphic.

Downloads per episode on left axis, episode number/release date on bottom axis:


Part 1: Get Rich. 1,000,000 Downloads. Celebrity Status.

Hosts launch podcasts for different reasons. Pick yours below and read on.

Cheat your way to 1,000,000 downloads

You scrolled to this one pretty fast their Knight-Rider! I get it. Everyone brags about how many downloads they get, you’re competitive, and you want to beat your friends.

It’s cool. Let me show you how. The short answer is chop up your episodes into 60 second bits and publish 1 “episode” per hour. In other words decrease length and increase publishing frequency – total game and pointless to play.

Here’s why.

LIE: “My show gets 1,000 unique downloads”

First, when you hear someone like John Lee Dumas say, we hit “829,000 unique downloads/listens in June” (Source: Forbes), understand its a total lie.

John’s a smart guy and almost certainly not doing this on purpose or to mislead but there is absolutely no way to know based off current data sources (Apple, Libsyn, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or other hosting services) how many unique human beings listened to your show.

John probably took his total monthly download numbers from Libsyn and just called that his “unique download” numbers. The problem is if you publish a daily show (30 per month) and only 1 person is listening, you could say “My show gets 30 unique downloads per month!”.

That’s not 30 people. That’s one person who clicked the download button 30 times.

TRUTH (but misleading): “My show has passed 1,000,000 downloads!”

I do this all the time, its my favorite.

This number really impresses people chasing quick wins and short term gains because they don’t understand what it actually means.

I absolutely EXPLOIT this, it helps me get more talented people on the show which means I learn faster.

Lets break this down. Here’s a screenshot from my Libsyn account showing I’ve passed 1,600,000 total downloads:

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 4.15.51 PM

What does that actually mean in terms of the total number of people listening to the show?

Ready for this? I have no freaking idea. Not a damn clue.

This industry is so behind in terms of data that I actually have no idea how many people listen to my show. This data gap is mainly due to Apple and its closed-wall ecosystem.

With Google Play getting into the podcast game, and promising data of some sort, I’m hoping this changes.

The number I focus on to TRY and figure out the total number of unique humans listening to my show is the number of downloads each show gets within the first 60-90 days of being live. 

This chart shows the number of downloads each of my February published episodes has received as of May 6th, 2016 (60-90 days after publish day).

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 4.19.51 PM

That’s an average of about 6100.

This is the closest I can get to trying to guess # of unique humans listening to my show each day, about 6100.

Like Doing a Webinar to 6100 Every Day!

BTW, for doing each show in my PJ’s at home, I’m basically doing a webinar to 6100 people everyday. I like those numbers.

Before I sold my last company, we’d spend $400-1000 to fill a webinar with 1000 people before selling $3-5k worth of product. I prefer free podcast listeners who tune in every day and listen with gusto!

Screw your listeners, want to print money?

This is the part that infuriates me.

Most sponsors are losing money faster than a gambling addict in Las Vegas because everyone is measuring the wrong things.

Data is the only thing that will fix this.

For example, I work with several sponsors and always ask them how much they are willing to pay me for a new customer. I’ll then look at my historical data and decide if I can beat it or not. If I think I can beat it, and its a great product, I’ll take the sponsor. If not, I’ll decline.

I currently work with 4-6 sponsors who pay an average CPM of $50 per placement per show. I simply bill each sponsor using Freshbooks (because I hate chasing payments and Freshbooks automatically collects payments for me so I can enjoy the pool) at the beginning of each quarter and continue producing great content.

A good first sponsor for any podcast is Audible. Simply recommend books related to your content and get paid. More importantly, you’ll learn how to get creative with recommending products you love to your audience.

Ok, here is how you print money at scale from your show.

Charge between $18-50 (CPM) for every 1,000 listeners each of your episodes gets. If your show gets 3,000 downloads per episode, and you charge a $30 CPM the math looks like:

$30 CPM x 3  x 1 placement x 1 sponsor = $90 per show

To make more money from your show, add more placements per show for a single sponsor, and add more total sponsors.

$30 CPM x 3 x 3 placements per show x 3 sponsors = $810 per show

Maximizing for revenue like this will kill your audience which is why its hard to optimize for money and influence/downloads at same time.

This is what a sponsor map for a 30 minute show with 4,000 downloads per episode (in first 60-90 days) might look like:

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 4.51.29 PM

To make more money, you can simply ad more sponsor placements per show. This graphic shows two sponsors (purple and green) who each have a pre, mid, and post-roll placement.

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 4.51.54 PM

At a $50 CPM with 4,000 downloads per show and 3 placements for 2 sponsors, you’re making $1200 per episode. You’re rich!

Want to get richer? Publish shows more frequently. Here’s what a show published weekly might look like:

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 4.52.05 PM

Publish daily and increase your revenue potential by 7 times:

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 4.52.14 PM

So if you want to screw your listeners and totally destroy the value of your show, simply chop up your episodes so they are shorter, publish more frequently, and add more sponsor placements per show.

Enjoy your $33,600 per month check which will likely last about 2 seconds as your audience leaves for better shows (which are probably more niche, with not enough downloads to command a sponsorship).

To find sponsors, rank high in iTunes.

Problem is, iTunes ranking and number of downloads per episode are NOT correlated.

Rob Welch from Libsyn shared with me that he’s seen show ranked #19 get 198 downloads while another show on same day ranked #90 got 50,000 downloads.

This is because iTunes ranks based off how many new subscribers a show got in the last 24 hours (generally). To optimize your rank get the most new subscribers possible in the shortest amount of time:

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 11.21.25 AM

Advantage goes to new shows.

So sponsors have no good way of finding shows with large numbers of real, human listeners outside of working with a podcast network like MidRoll, PodcastOne, or another broker.

This is an inbound sponsor email I got (sensitive info blurred) from a large company wanting to sponsor my show. Study it so you know what to optimize for if you want more sponsors:

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 4.32.22 PM copy

There you have it. To make more money from your show, publish shorter shows, more frequently with more sponsor placements per show. This will cost you your audience in the long run.

Quickly build influence like a celebrity

If you have a guest on your show who mentions a book, and that book shoots up from #500,000 on Amazon to #1,000 because so many people went and purchased the day that episode went live, that’s my rough gauge of how influential your podcast is.

Here’s an example to what happens when a book gets mentioned on my show:

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 4.25.30 PM

The book moved from a 500,000+ ranking to +30,000 in the span of a few hours from when the episode went live. Influence is what I’m optimizing my show for.

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 4.25.38 PM

See: How Tim Ferris became the Oprah of Podcasting with 70 million downloads

To build influence, generally avoid selling any advertising for at least 3 years. Your audience hates ads and you’ll lose trust the more you interrupt your shows with sponsor messages.

I know, shitty message for those of you wanting to be Tim Ferris overnight. Sorry. Influence is the hardest to build which is why very few do it.

To build influence like a celebrity, do the same thing, longer than anyone else, better than anyone else, and more consistently than anyone else.

I suggest you start by grabbing a cheap domain with HostGator and use their wordpress plugin to launch your podcast website quickly. If you chose to use HostGator I may get paid at no cost to you because I love their product and am an affiliate.

Part 2: 6 Launch Strategy Steps I Used That Many Called “Crazy” and “Stupid”

I became very tired of podcasts that were either scripted to maximize sponsorships or ones where guest rambled on and on about fluffy details without getting into any meat.

I decided my podcast would be quick, 15 minutes each day, and would rapidly get to revenue numbers, equity splits, and monthly cashflow.

My first questions is always:

“How much money did you make last month and how did you do it”.

I personally was excited for the show even if I was the only one listening. You should think about your show the same way: If no one listens, would you still do it?

Here are the results we drove in the first 30 days of the show being live:

1,050 downloads on day 1:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 4.59.29 PM

#1 in New and Noteworthy:


36,000 downloads in our first month live, August:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 4.59.56 PM

These results are not magical or hard to get. They are 100% engineered and you can do the same thing. 

Follow these steps.

Step #1: The Strategic 8 Episode Launch That Got 5k Downloads Fast

Launching with 3 episodes is WRONG STRATEGY.

Everyone told me to launch with 3-5 episodes but no one gave me good reasoning.

The way I saw it, there was incredible upside to launching with the maximum numbers of episodes I could without making my audience feel like they couldn’t catch up.

The math is simple.

1 Subscriber x 1 episode = 1 download

1 Subscriber x 8 episodes = 8 downloads

If you’re optimizing for downloads, this is a must. It also lets your audience binge listen and get addicted early on.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.43.44 PM

Launch with as many episodes as you can but no more than 2 hours of total content. (If your show is 1 hour long, launch with 2 episodes). The KEY is to MAKE sure you don’t overwhelm your audience on day 1.

I decided to launch with 8, 15 minute episodes. This means there would be 2 hours of content: Not too much to make new listeners feel overwhelmed BUT still getting 8 “launch partners” who emailed their lists on day 1.

Here’s how I got them to email. I sent an email to all 20 pre-recorded episode guests and said:

“Hey, I’m trying to decide which 8 episodes to launch with. These episodes will go out to my list and I’ll be investing heavily in promoting them. If I put you on launch day, are you willing to help out and email your list?”

Needless to say, everyone who said “yes” went out on day one. Everyone who said “no” was put in the que for later.

(BONUS: I used the fact that Apple ranked us #1 on launch day to convince initial “no”s into “yes’s” for emailing their lists)

The result was that almost instantly, on Day 1, we were averaging 1000 downloads per day. Here is a screenshot from Libsyn, the tool I used to host my podcast:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 4.59.29 PM

Launch with as many episodes as you can but don’t exceed 2 hours of content.

STEP #2: 12 FREE Shortcuts to 5,000 Downloads FAST

  1. Add a PS into every personal email you send by updating your email signature with a link to an episode (I use gmail): Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.00.10 PM
  2. Email your guests the day their episode releases and soft-sell them publishing on social media:Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.00.18 PM
  3. Publish a “Top 10 Interviews” list each month and encourage competition among podcast guests to get in that list. I did this with Sue Zimmerman and she crushed it driving an additional 893 downloads to her episode in 24 hours (GO Sue!): Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.00.25 PM
  4. Get 1 big guest who you truly admire, appreciate, and respect and then use them as an anchor to attract other big names (Bob, I appreciate you bud :). This is how I pitched Joe Pulizzi (CEO at Content Marketing World). Joe said yes – his interview is #54 (release date 9/17/2015) Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.00.33 PM
  5. Every episode should start with a pre-interview open loop. This means you should say 1-2 sentences to drive intense curiosity about the last episode that went live. For example: “In yesterday’s episode #1, you heard how Kim Garst built a $23k/mo membership site using a $47/mo product!”. This turns one download into 2 almost automatically by hooking the listener. 
  6. Post an Instagram picture for each episode AND include the top trending hashtag that day (found on Instagram homepage dashboard), along with 5-10 hashtags relevant to that episode. I also like tagging 5 people who I think would get value from listening to the episode. Make sure you LINK to your podcast in your Instagram Biography. Here’s an example I did with a woman who is doing $171k/mo and CRUSHING most men (Go Crystal!):  Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.00.41 PM
  7. When a tool or guest gets mentioned in your podcast, tell them via twitter/facebook – they will re-share. I strategically spend 120 seconds on every episode asking 5 questions called the “Famous Five”. Each of these questions get the guest to mention their “favorite” something (that ties with a new potential podcast partner/distribution channel for me!) 
  8. When a book gets mentioned, tell them. Same marketing strategy as #5. (BONUS: Publish a “Top 10 Books from Top Entrepreneurs blog article once per month to get book authors to retweet/re-email their lists/re-post on Facebook and Instagram). This will help new folks discover the podcast: Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.01.00 PM
  9. Use a tool like lead digits from leadpages and tell your guests to text “the word nathan to 33444 for your chance to win a GoPro from episode 8”. In 30 days this resulted in 203 email opt ins (or about 1 new subscriber per every 150 downloads) Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.01.09 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.01.16 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.01.24 PM
  10. Email the list daily about a new podcast episode (WARNING: Do not email your whole list daily right off the bat – get them to subscribe to a segmented list requesting daily updates). Keep this conversational, short, and sweet. This email about Carrie Wilkerson’s episode got a 76.2% open rate and 28.5% click through rate:  Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.01.32 PM
  11. Back link each blog article to previous episode with a super provocative “open hook” (this is how you get people addicted – same strategy TV show survivor uses when they say “stay tuned for scenes from our next episode). Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.01.38 PM
  12. Email a larger segment of your list once per month with the top 10 episodes. I did this and drove 222 clicks back to the website. The trick is that Top 10 article will back-link to the individual blog posts for each of the top 10 episodes, thus driving more downloads.  Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.01.44 PM

Doing these little things, consistently, every day drive incredible results over time.

Step #3: Getting Into New and Noteworthy Quickly and Easily

There was no single magic bullet that led to us getting featured in New and Noteworthy. If you follow the quick way to get 30 reviews that I wrote about above, pick smart guests to launch 8 episodes with on Day 1, and stem competition among your guests, you’ll virtually guarantee you get featured too!

Keep reading to see how I did this….


Getting into New and Noteworthy means Apple will basically feed you new subscribers for FREE for about 8 weeks.

Identify 50 people you can count on to review on day 1 (only 30 actually will)

When launch day comes around, you will be swamped with fires to put out so get as much done beforehand as you can.

I FB messaged friends and said “here’s a preview of an episode, shoot me a quick reply if you like it”. If they replied, I asked them if I could reach out on launch day and have them write a review and leave a rating.

I kept track of all the commitments in a Google Doc: 

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.02.09 PM

While this is very much science and art, I knew that if I got 30 5 star reviews in a very short amount of time on day 1, Apple would put me in New and Noteworthy based off other business shows that were in N&N that had way less reviews.

Always Have 1-2 Months of Episodes Ready to Go

I was well aware that getting into podcasting would need to be a commitment. To get a show to #1, it requires a consistent release schedule over a very long period of time.

To minimize recording time and to make sure I got one episode out every morning, I block off two days each month (6 hours each day) to be in studio. My calendar on those days looks like this:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.02.18 PM

I block off 20 minutes for each interview (live taping is 15 minutes, 5 minute buffer) and I knock out 15 interviews each recording session. In two recording sessions (12 hours), I can knock out a months worth of episodes.

When I find a guest I want to interview, I send them to my scheduleonce page:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.02.23 PM

Once they are scheduled, I plan out their release schedule in our “Show Master” google doc. It’s critical you do this BEFORE you do the live session.. keep reading and I’ll tell you why (you strategy people will LOVE this):

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.02.28 PM

Picking a Logo/Artwork That Gets Apple to Give You Free New Listeners

You want to pick a logo and artwork that is clean and that POPS. To see if it’ll pop or not, literally edit your logo into a screenshot of mobile version of itunes take them into starbucks, and ask people to point to the first logo they see:

Here’s an example (this design got ZERO attention, so I threw in the trash, fast!):

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.02.37 PM

I did a version of this testing in an Instagram post:

My iterations:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.02.44 PM

Final result:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.02.49 PM

Make sure you use highly contrasting colors if you care most about getting organically discovered in iTunes.

Your designer will hate you for making something that looks so ugly – but guess what? It works! Start with one of these color combinations (I landed on a more subtle orange/white/black combo):

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.02.56 PM

I Only Spend 12 Hours Per Month on The Podcast Because of These 9 steps

The key piece to pre-launch was getting a hyper efficient system set up so that execution would be flawless and scaleable. I started by setting up Google Drive folders organized around Pre-Launch, Launch, Post-Launch (this was for the show and I use these folders for each episode)

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.03.01 PM

Mallard Creatives handle my shownotes every day and Mike does a fantastic job.

I also pay Sam, my producer, $18 per episode (a little over $1/minute of live episode time) to post produce and publish the shows to Libsyn.

This is the 12 step daily process my team runs to keep the podcast at the top, without me:

  1. Nathan use to schedule podcast guests
  2. Nathan use Skype and ECamm to record podcast episodes.
  3. Nathan upload episodes to Google Drive folder
  4. Sam take Nathan’s files and produce them. This includes touching up any dead spots in the recording, adding music and sponsors. 
  5. Sam finalize each audio file by adding on the pre and post-roll open loop along with the 33444 Call to Action (CTA),  and upload final version into Google Drive folder titled “Audio Files” no later than 35 days before release date.
  6. Mike write show notes for each episode 35 days before release date and schedule post in wordpress
  7. Sam schedule final version of show into Libsyn for release at 2am the morning the show goes live
  8. Nathan email guest telling them episode is live and asking them to Tweet/Facebook/IG, email market. 
  9. Nathan email list, telling them new show is live

Time is MORE IMPORTANT to me than money. If you are the reverse, don’t build a team, build a process and execute it yourself and you can do this for less than $500.

Step # 4: After Launch Day, Getting 36,000 Downloads Your First 30 Days

Email Script I Use to Convince Guests to Email THEIR lists

Email marketing is the quickest way to drive incredible amounts of traffic and downloads to your podcast. It’s critical you convince guests to email their lists.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.03.10 PM


Hey Mike, I’m about to feature the top 10 episodes for August in a blog post. You’re almost in the Top 10 but not quite there. Are you game to email your list at 9am EST on August 23rd?

Thanks, Nathan

P.S. – Apple has us ranked in the TOP new business podcasts and I’m already getting great feedback about your episode!

Now that we have a waiting list of the top CEO’s wanting to be on the top for free exposure, I’m requiring all guests email their lists!

The Unsexy Things No One Talks About

These unsexy items are long term plays that no one does because you don’t see immediate results.

I’m convinced that by setting up a few of these unsexy things that when I check them out 5 years from now, they’ll be huge channels for the show.

First, set up Soundcloud for easy, quick playback inside twitter.

This drove 288 additional downloads/plays in August alone. (Peanuts compared to iTunes but this required less than 5 minutes to set up and requires 0 time ongoing to keep updated).  

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.03.28 PM

Update, now in May of 2016, SoundCloud is slowing adding more listeners to my audience (2300 over 30 days versus 288 back in month 1):

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 12.40.26 PM

Second, get set up on Stitcher so android users have an easy way to listen in. This drove about 210 downloads in August and consistently drives 7-8 new downloads per day on autopilot:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.03.40 PM


Update, now in May 2016, we’re getting 70-90 downloads per day from Stitcher. Another example of slow growth, consistently, over time:

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 12.45.19 PM

Optimize Your Podcast Meta-Data Like You Optimize a Blog Post to be on Page 1 of Google

You have to think abotu your podcast meta-data just like you do with blog post SEO. The trouble is, data on what is searched in the iTunes podcast app is limited – so you have to guess/predict.

I know that my ideal listener is always looking for advice on business, money, marketing, and life. Many of the top shows focus on these 4 categories. Optimize your show title accordingly:

Show Title: The Top Entrepreneurs in Money, Marketing, Business, and Life

Secondly, iTunes users are likely to be searching for the names or podcast titles of other shows in your category. Include those keywords in the Author section of each show:

Author: Nathan Latka brings you top entrepreneurs daily inspired by Tim Ferriss, Pat Flynn, John Dumas, Entrepreneur on Fire, Chalene Johnson, NPR, HBR, the StartUp podcast, Art of Charm, Dave Ramsey, Planet Money, APM Marketplace, Mixergy, Seth Godin, #AskGaryVee, ProBlogger, Question of the Day, Build Your Tribe, and Diane Sanfilippo.

(Update 1/9/2016: Do not do this in the author tag. I didn’t realize this but Apple does not like it and your show will be excluded from appearing in the “Whats Hot” section)

Lastly, optimize episode titles to include the guests name.

Example: “His Event is Free, So How Does He Make $800k Every Time? With Nick Unsworth”

Now, when anyone searches Nick Unsworth on iTunes, they’ll see his episode with me:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.03.59 PM

These are all little, unsexy things, that may drive 2-3 downloads per day but added up, over time, they move the needle.

These tactics separate the real podcast winners from the total losers who are lazy and who are chasing a short term high. 

Step #5: Tricks To Getting 7 Reviews Per Week Automatically And Floods of New Subscribers

Another advantage to a daily show is you can require guests to subscribe to the show, rate the show, and review the show.

Use this simple email script to make sure all of your guests are helping grow the show with you:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.04.07 PM

When people opt in to my list, I send an autoresponder sequence that many people call brilliant. 

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.04.15 PM

The subject line says: “hey” (I copied this from Barack Obamas #1 fundraising email)

The content says:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.04.24 PM

If you’re wondering why I talk about kitties, it’s because I took Neville Medhora’s advice and read the Boron Letters (genius copywriting ideas).

Now, take a look below and notice the click through rate on the first email is 0%. That’s because there are no links to click.

I’ve optimized the email to get the new subscriber to reply directly to me.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.04.30 PM

If they reply to the autoresponder, I’ll reply manually to make sure they subscribe to the show by saying:

“If you’re loving the show will you follow these instructions and subscribe? Once your done, text me a screenshot of iTunes that shows you’ve subscribed and I’ll call you out on the next episode to get you some free exposure and show my appreciation! My number is 7034312709”

Once they subscribe, THEN use one of these 4 phrases to get them to leave a rating and review. (DO NOT ASK for both at once – it’s too much. Get them to say “yes I’ve subscribed” first AND THEN use the 4 phrases below).

  1. If you’re loving the show will you leave a rating? Let me know what you write when you’re done, I’m curious.
  2. Sometimes Apple is weird, shoot me a quick reply when you’ve left a review so I know it worked
  3. I want to call you out on the next episode, leave a review? (See how I did this in the episode on this show.)
  4. Screenshot your review and send it to me so I can give you a surprise that everyone else has to pay for (I then send them an eBook that I sell for $27 for free).

NOTE: If you just ask for a review, people will make you feel good and just say yes. You have to get them to emotionally commit. The 4 phrases above help you do that.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.44.58 PM

Step #6: Positioning for the long term game, binging

Record a pre and post roll on every episode

No body does this and I don’t understand why. The reality TV shows that are THE BIGGEST hits start each show with a 2-3 minute teaser of what happened last time, and usually end with a 2-3 minute teaser of whats coming up.

Survivor. Shark Tank. The Apprentice. House of Cards. They all do it and it works on me so I’m copying them.

At the start of each show I’ll say something like:

“Coming up tomorrow morning at 9am EST you’ll hear from a billionaire who has raised $10b dollars!”

At the end of each show I’ll say something like:

“If you liked todays episode, you’ll love yesterdays episode where I talked to a mom with 4 kids who quit corporate to start her own company!”

This turns one download into 3, 4, and 5 and gets listeners binging and addicted to your content.

WARNING: Make sure you’re show is worth peoples time. One of the reasons I started my show was because I find the HBR podcast incredibly BORING. (Don’t listen while you drive, you risk head-bopping, falling asleep at the wheel, and crashing). It’s HORRIBLE.

So, create amazing content and get people addicted.

Why You MUST Re-Post Every Podcast Episode

Many podcasts have sputtered out because the hosts quit too early. Commit to doing at least a years worth of shows or don’t do it at all.

I’ve committed to one show per day released at 9am EST lasting between 15-20 minutes. We always stick to this and our listeners love it.

We experimented with posting a replay of a past episode with a different title to see if it would spike downloads. If the experiment worked, it would mean we could double frequency from 1 per day to 2 per day (unheard of in Podcasting but we’re trying all sorts of weird tactics!)

The idea came because I know when I listen to other shows, I never go all the way back to the beginning. A replay with a compelling title might pull me in and get me addicted.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.04.39 PM

We haven’t done a replay since the one we did on August 23rd because I’ve got several concerns despite the apparent success that day in terms of downloads.

We saw 1718 downloads that day up from our 1100 average (about a 67% increase!)

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.04.46 PM

My biggest concern is that our most loyal listeners (who HAVE listened to all shows) will get pissed off that we’re reposting content. Then again, reality TV shows do this all the time (See Shark Tank).

My second concern is I don’t know if Apple penalizes you for posting the same content twice (kind of like how Google does if you post same blog post twice).

Will keep you updated on these experiments.

Update May 2016, we post 3 replays each day at 11am Central along with the one new episode. The episode graph below shows we get an increase of 15-25% (300-400 new downloads) just from posting the replay with a different title. We typical make the replay title a more generic version of the original title to pull in a broader audience. 

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 12.59.58 PM

No matter what you do, tell your audience in episode 1 exactly what your show is, why you’re doing it, and when they can expect new shows – and STICK to it!

You Must Understand Why Your Listeners Care About You

The best way to do this is to give out your phone number and text listeners. My favorite question to ask is: “What question do you always wish I would ask but I never do?”

I also tell each new email subscriber from the show to UNSUBSCRIBE from my list unless they introduce themselves by taking this survey I set up using Ryan Levesque’s Ask book technique.  

This is the email I send:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.05.10 PM

Ryan’s technique consists of a series of 6 questions. You then use responses to update subscriber merge tag fields in your CRM. I then email new listeners podcast episodes I have already posted that I think they’ll enjoy listening to based off how they answered the 6 questions.

These are the 6 questions:

  1. What is your single biggest marketing challenge right now?
  2. Which of the following best describes you?
  3. Which of the following best describes you?
  4. Roughly, what’s the overall size of your business in terms of gross sales $?
  5. What’s your primary niche/market?
  6. Email, Name, Phone

I then put responses in an excel doc to categorize and then re-upload fields into Mailchimp so I have more accurate merge tags.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.05.16 PM

This increases open rates and click through rates like you wouldn’t believe.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.05.22 PM

To really understand how this cycle works, I encourage you to study the same book I did:

Click here to buy the book on Amazon. 

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 5.54.23 PM

Ok, you just learned the launch strategy I used to hit #1 in New and Noteworthy, and some of the longer term strategies I used to get 1,600,000 downloads in my first 8 months of podcasting.

Now lets talk about your legacy play and winning big.

Microphone I use: Apogee Electronics MiC 96k USB Microphone

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 1.07.03 PM

I like this microphone because it fits in the side pocket on my back pack which means I can take it anywhere. This increases the likelihood that I can take advantage of surprise interviews with great guests who I may run into at conferences or other travel destination spots.

Headset I use: Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 1.07.17 PM

Focus on trailing 12 week download numbers per episode

This is your most realistic measure of your true audience. Literally, how many unique humans are listening to your show every episode.

Ignore your friends posting their total downloads, or unique download numbers. You will win in the long run if you stay exclusively focused on how many downloads each of your shows get in the first 12 weeks it’s live.


The best way I have to track this right now is to download Libsyn stats (total downloads) and look at episodes published 12 weeks ago. (In white circle above).

My “Moving 12 week download average” is 6,000 +/- 600 downloads. This is the number I care about improving.

The other labels on this chart are instructive. Here’s what they represent:

A. This episode was with a very controversial public figure. The “entertainment” value of this episode drove up download numbers. (I didn’t find it particularly educational but you must strike balance).

B. This episode was with the worlds most powerful and influential Venture Capitalist, Tim Draper. This episode was super rich on educational material where Tim answered questions like why did he invest in Uber? Twitter? Skype? How did he raise $10 billion dollars? Downloads spiked on this because it was an elusive guest who usually doesn’t do public interviews and who had tons to teach the audience.

C. Episode 145 spiked because the guest shared information he hadn’t shared anywhere else on line. Credit my hard hitting/brash interview style. He shared why he turned down at $35m acquisition offer.

D. This is my 12 week moving average. This is the only number I care about driving up over time.

E. This episode spiked because of a great headline. “Magic Words That Make People Buy”. The guest is the highest paid copywriter and this episode got loads of social shares.

If you have questions about other spots on this graph, ask in the questions and I’ll answer as fast as possible.

Make your shows easily searchable

If a guest discovers your show on the 200th episode and gets hooked, you need to make it easy for them to find other shows they’ll like without having to hunt through 200 titles.

I tried all sorts of clever ways to sort and ultimate the easiest for listeners is this public Google Doc where you can sort each episode by popularity, 2015 revenue of the guest, favorite book, favorite tool and more:

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 3.36.07 PM

I could do a better job at this but right now, I just list and categorize every show here:

Top 10 Articles I Studied Pre-Podcast Launch

  • Kay

    I can’t believe there aren’t any comments on this post telling you how amazing and entertaining it is! You sound like a handful lol. But I love your straightforward approach in writing and podcasts, I’m sooooo tired of the noise. This post has given me exactly what I need. Love you long time!


      I recently republished :) thanks Kay!

  • Nathan,
    You always crush it when it comes to sharing your process, fantastic and useful will definitely return for more wisdom!


      Thanks Azul!

  • Nathan, again, great content! if I had a podcast I will follow these guidelines. Keep it up buddy, you are the only podcast I listed to.


      Very kind of you! Very smart too! Thanks Miki.

  • Wow! This post and information is like drinking from a fire- hydrant! Love your transparency too. Great content, strategies, and process! Keep up the great work Nathan.


      Thanks joe! Do you have your own show?

      • Not yet but plan to create one now thst i havevread this post

  • This is EPIC content. I will be referring to this as my road map for launching my podcast. As always, THANK YOU, Nathan!


      You bet hahna! When are you launching?

  • Dannie Brown

    Nathan, I followed you on FB yesterday during a broadcast. I do have an idea for a show and would like your feedback. Wonder if it’s possible to face time, whether through FB or whatever.
    Let me know.

  • Dannie Brown

    BTW, must say, this has me overly excited.


      What’s the idea?!

      • Dannie Brown

        How can I tell you about it without “putting it out there”?

  • Dannie Brown

    How soon do you need something to sell? Like your ebook, for example. Not sure what that would be for me.


      I don’t follow… You don’t need to sell anything

  • Antonio

    Great Article Nathan but in my opinion all this does not really matter if you don’t have a great network or already a great blog or youtube channel before launching the podcast.
    Myself I have an amazing podcast with high quality entrepreneurs and high number of episodes but still with low numbers despite doing all the above and more.
    I was told being based in the US helps getting a higher ranking in iTunes I am not sure.
    The takeaway in my opinion is to build a great entrepreneurial/business network and ideally an audience via online courses or a blog before launching the podcast otherwise you will never have thousands of listeners a day


      No way you’ve done everything above. Almost all my growth came from other people marketing for me. Convince your guests to market

  • Thank you for the content… So glad Will Barron shared this with me just prior to launching my podcast!!

  • Wonderful and valuable content in this article. I learned some stuff I’m going to use with the relaunch of my podcast, especially the commit to at least a year. 70 daily podcasts without missing a day, and then got burnt out on it because I wasn’t recording any content ahead of time.
    This and the nine articles you mentioned will be my go to points for building out my podcast. And, of course, I’m going to no longer try to record the episode on the day it’s supposed to be published. For some reason I avoided recording pre recorded content like the plague, but see how now it can be used to to my advantage.

    Never stop being amazing and thanks for sharing your experiences.


  • Mohamed GadAllah

    An amazing indeed.
    Thanks for your share :)

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  • Chandler Bolt

    Good stuff! Great, comprehensive post. Really helpful