What makes a great first podcast episode? Should it be a normal episode, just like the rest, or should it follow its own unique first-episode format?

In today’s very exciting inaugural episode of Wit & Wire, I’m going to share the dos and don’ts of a great first episode. I’ll also share my suggested first-episode framework that any podcaster can use, no matter your podcast topic or format.

In this episode, you’ll learn…

  • Why I started this podcast, and how it ties into my bigger business goals to help podcasters launch & grow their shows
  • Why your first episode should sound different than the rest of your episodes
  • The three core components I recommend including in your first episode

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NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by a free AI tool called Otter.ai. Please forgive any typos or errors.

Melissa Guller 0:00
What makes a great first episode? Should it be exactly like the rest of your show or should it be something unique that you create to set the tone for your brand new podcast. In today's very exciting inaugural episode, I'm going to share the do's and don'ts of a great first episode, as well as my suggested framework that any podcaster can use, no matter your topic or format. Let's jump into this very first episode of Wit & Wire.

Announcer 0:36
Welcome to Wit & Wire, the podcast that takes you behind the scenes with podcasters and industry experts to help you start and scale a binge worthy podcast of your own. Here's your host, Melissa Guller.

Melissa Guller 0:37
Hey everyone, I'm Melissa, and I'm so excited to welcome you to the very first episode of this new podcast Wit & Wire. To celebrate the launch of the new show, I wanted to share a bit of my own podcaster story and take a minute to introduce myself as your host, because even if you have doubts, as a podcaster like maybe your topic has already been taken or you don't know where to find new listeners or maybe you don't even know where to begin. Then you're in the right place, because I truly believe that anyone can launch and run a great podcast, and that there's someone out there who really needs to hear your voice. So I want to help you get there. After my intro and by the end of this episode, you'll learn why I started this podcast and how it ties into my bigger goals with my business, also called win wire. You'll also learn my proven three step framework to create your first podcast episode, and why I recommend doing something that doesn't match the rest of your episodes to come.

But before we get into the lesson. Like I said, I have to step back and introduce myself, because I think a lot of you are brand new. And this is our first chance to get to know each other which I'm very excited about. And the truth is my story doesn't really start with a podcast. It actually started with a spreadsheet. All right, I don't need to take you all the way back to my childhood in St. Louis, Missouri, but I do want to start a little bit earlier than my first podcast, because the truth is I really didn't start off my online business journey as a podcaster. I started off as a teacher. I was teaching classes at General Assembly here in New York. And that started in 2015, and I quickly fell in love with it.

I love the feeling of sharing knowledge with people and like seeing that spark of understanding in their eyes that they've understood the concept and feel like they've learned something valuable. And for the last five years, I've continued to teach in person classes. And that's why I joke that my online business journey started with Excel because I was such an Excel nerd. I don't know why I said was I still am an Excel nerd, and anywhere I've worked and even amongst my friends, they all know that I'm the one to go to if you have a random Excel question. I've had friends text me questions I get random emails with Hey Melissa, can you help me with this spreadsheet. And I am not kidding, I love it. I love answering Excel questions and I love teaching.

And the more I taught. The more people wanted to work with me. They wanted to know if I did tutoring, and if I did consulting, and if I taught for corporations and I kept saying yes to everything and truly fell in love with teaching. And at the time I was actually toying with the idea of starting a podcast because I knew it was a growing medium, and I thought that there could be a really great opportunity to interview more people like me people who were earning money on the side. And I don't know exactly what held me back, but I think it was a combination of not knowing what I was doing. I had no idea how to podcast and didn't know anyone podcasting so it felt like it would be a challenge. And on top of that, I think if I am more honest. I was worried about putting myself out there.

I've always been a fairly private person and a more behind the scenes kind of girl. But the idea of having a podcast and having to tell everyone that I had a podcast, and potentially reaching out to guests and having them tell me no I don't want to go on your little podcast, it was all just a little bit terrifying. And I didn't do it at the time, and I don't think it was necessarily the wrong choice, but it did take me. I think three more years, until I finally decided to test the waters. So I just had this moment where I knew I wanted to start another project, and it felt like this would finally be my time to learn how to podcast, and in a name that is so ironic looking back, but I didn't mean it to be this way at the time. I named my podcast, figuring it out. And it was all about challenges facing modern millennials, so whether it was negotiating a salary, finding a job on the internet or writing a dating profile that wasn't terrible. I thought I would explore just different questions that my generation had.

Truthfully, the podcast did better than I thought it would! I started growing, a small audience. And more than anything, the biggest indicator that I thought I was onto something is that the feedback and the reviews were really positive.

The problem was, I wasn't clear on how I was going to keep growing the show because millennials is a pretty broad target audience. And there were a couple of other things that I'll dive into in future episodes. But, I suddenly realized that, although I liked podcasting. It wasn't quite the right fit. So I decided to take a pause and sunset figuring out. And instead, I pitched a friend. And we started book smart, which is all about personal development books. I love creating episodes of book smart and adding in a co host introduced a whole new dynamic and a new energy to the show. And although that podcast is still active. We're on break between seasons and hopeful that we'll release new episodes in the future.

But truthfully, although that podcast continues to grow and has, you know, in the five figure downloads the podcast that really skyrocketed my growth as a podcaster was Everything is Teachable. So, I work full time for a company called Teachable, which is an online platform that lets anybody monetize their knowledge online by selling online courses. And when I pitched the idea of doing the podcast, it was nobody's job at the company, but I just knew that we had great creators, with great stories to share.

So I took all my podcasting knowledge and started interviewing creators. And when we launched, much to my surprise, we actually ended up hitting the charts, as the #2 Career podcast in America, and a top 20 overall business podcast. And I was just floored by that and the podcast continues to grow into grow and we're in season two right now. And my favorite part by far is reading the reviews, because just seeing that you've inspired somebody to take action or that they feel like it's attainable to them to have their own online course feels amazing.

And although we've had, you know, 10s of thousands of downloads, at this point, something I want to share with you is that my setup isn't fancy. I record in Teachables office with a Blue Yeti, one of my favorite microphones, and I'll put a link in the show notes to my additional picks. But other than that, with very simple equipment, I'm able to interview guests from around the world, and to reach listeners around the world to. And after seeing the power of podcasting over the last few years. That's what inspired me to start with and wire. So a year ago, I started this business, to help new podcasters learn the ropes. Because when I started, I didn't know anyone else who had a podcast. And so I was constantly googling things and piecing info together to just try and make things work. But I realized something else to tie this whole story together. I realized that on top of my experience as a podcaster.

I had two other big positives going for me that most people didn't have. The first is my experience as a marketer. I've been working in marketing for the past few years, and specifically in online marketing, and because of that background, I've learned how to think differently, and that's not a call out to Apple - shout out to the Macs, shout out to the PCs, love y'all equally. But I think I've noticed that a lot of podcasters have really incredible content, but without that foundational marketing knowledge.

It's hard to understand how to attract new listeners to your show, and sure, the marketing is important, but I think that the biggest thing that sets me apart and really gets me excited to keep working with podcasters is my love of teaching, and I'm so thrilled to be able to bring this podcast, to all of you to keep doing the same. So, today with Whitney and wire I do offer courses, and coaching services to help anyone launch and grow their podcast and this year. My goal is to help 100 podcasters on their show by the end of 2020. So, I'm really hoping that you'll be one of them. And I can't wait to either help you launch, or to help you continue growing.

[Transition Music]

Now I think that's enough about me for today. What I really want to address in this first episode is a little bit unique because this is the first episode of Wit & Wire. And I thought I'd use this opportunity to address this popular question from students which is, “What should I talk about in my first podcast episode?”

I think it's a great question because it means that new podcasters are aware of how important it is to make a great first impression. And that's exactly what I want to help you do by sharing what I call the Triple C framework. Before I dive in. I do want to address maybe the hidden second part of this question which is, should my first episode match the rest of the episodes should it look exactly the same and have the same format. And I've seen people go both ways. What some podcasters do, is they use their first episode to show an example of what listeners can expect throughout the series. But the reason why I like to use this Triple C framework and to do something different, is because I like to set the stage, and maybe you've heard the term “Episode 0,” that used to be used in reference to this first kind of unique episode, but I prefer to call it your first episode because it will actually be episode number one, when you publish your show. And by setting the scene by sharing a bit more about you, and by sharing your expectations with listeners. I think it's a better way to give them a true intro of your show, rather than just diving into the first episode. Now, that's not a hard and fast rule. As with most things in podcasting, you're the best judge of what will work for your audience. But if you do want to go with the specials first episode.

Here is the Triple C framework for episode one. The first C is CREDIBILITY. Just as I shared a little bit more about my background with you. I want you to use this opportunity to share your background with your listeners, especially if you're doing an interview style show your first episode if you didn't go this special route, you'd be sharing the background about your guest. And you may not be giving yourself the opportunity to share a little bit more about you. So I think that's so important. Early on, to build a relationship with your listeners, and to let them in and let them see who you are. And so that's why credibility is so important. I don't want you to be afraid to brag. If you have amazing accomplishments, you should share them. But do keep it relevant. So make sure, for my podcast I'm talking about my podcasting background, and not necessarily about my expertise when it comes to ice cream tasting around Brooklyn, although I certainly consider myself an expert on that topic as well. The truth is that people do really want to get to know you. So by having a special first episode you can start to create that early bond between you and your listeners.

The second C is CONTENT. So there's two sides of this coin. The first is that your episode should have something of substance. It's not enough to just share a little bit about you. You should either share some takeaway bit of advice, lesson, something to laugh about and give them something that they can walk away with and that should be true for every episode. But the other side of the coin is that you want to give people a taste of what's to come. So beyond the first episode. What are your goals for the podcast, what can people expect to learn from you or hear from your guests, or share together. No matter the topic. It's a great chance for you to explain what's to come. So as an example, with Winton wire. My goal is to empower more people to create and launch, amazing podcasts that create truly raving fans. And to do that, I'm going to be bringing on fellow podcasters. I'm going to be bringing in industry experts. I'm hoping to do some coaching on air with listeners like you and to really collect a lot of input and something unique about my show, is that I'm excited to play around with different formats, so you'll hear me go solo sometimes like this episode. You'll also hear me doing interviews. And I'm hoping to showcase lots of different ways that you can be a podcaster, and to represent a lot of voices in podcasting with the guests that I bring in. So whether you're brand brand new and you've just started thinking about launching a podcast, or if you do have some live episodes, and you're hoping to grow your audience, and maybe even monetize and beyond, then this will be the right podcast for you.

That wraps up the second see content, and it moves us into the third and final C, which is your CALL TO ACTION. In every single episode you publish, you'll want to leave your listeners with something to do. And it can be very simple, and you'll usually want to keep it to one CTA, or call to action, per episode. So for your very first episode, a good option is to ask for reviews in Apple podcasts, having reviews on your show is a signal, not just to listeners that other people are listening, although that's important as well. But reviews are also an early signal to Apple podcasts, and it's so important that you consider Apple podcasts, algorithm, when you're developing your new show. So, that's what you'll hear me do in the outro of this episode. But another good option would be to ask people to subscribe to your podcast, and to give them instructions to do so. What's great about launching a podcast in 2020, and in the future, is that the word podcast actually means something to people now, even in 2018 and earlier, you had to really explain how to subscribe to a show, and fortunately for us that barrier to entry is coming down a little bit. So definitely ask people to subscribe and ask them to leave a review, but you don't necessarily need to give them the level of instruction that you used to.

Before we wrap up that Triple C framework again was credibility content and call to action. And I do want to address. Another question you may have, which is how long should it be. There's no right or wrong answer. I don't think your episode needs to be more than five to 10 minutes, but it can be longer 15 to 20 depending on your style. And it doesn't need to match the length of any episodes and the rest of your series, so I wouldn't worry as much about how long it is rather I'd ask, how long do I need to share value. I hope you've found this first episode useful, and maybe even a good example, as you think about a first episode of your own. So I'm very excited that this is just the first of many to come and be on the lookout in one second for my example of the third c call to action.

Melissa Guller 18:00
Thank you so much for joining me this week! To view the complete show notes and a recap of today’s podcasting tips, visit witandwire.com/1.

Before you go, make sure you subscribe to the podcast so you can receive new episodes right when they’re released. You can either subscribe right now in the app you’re using to listen to this podcast, or you can sign up for email alerts at witandwire.com/1.

Lastly, I do have a quick favor to ask before we go. If you’re enjoying the podcast, I hope you’ll let me know! I love reading through your reviews in Apple Podcasts, and if you have a minute to spare, I’d love to read yours, too. Reviews let Apple know that great listeners like you enjoy our show, and that helps us expand our reach in search results. So it really does make a difference.

Thank you again for joining me, Melissa Guller, in this episode of Wit & Wire. I’ll see you next time, podcasters!

Key takeaways: your first podcast episode

Today’s episode is a little bit unique because it’s the very first one, and I thought I’d use this opportunity to address a hot question I get asked regularly, which is, “What should I talk about in my first podcast episode?” 

I think it’s a great question because it means that new podcasters are aware of how important it is to make a great first impression.

There are three core components to your first podcast episode. I call this my Triple C Framework, and here’s a quick overview:

#1: Credibility

Listeners will want to learn more about you, and your first episode is the first place to share a bit more about your background. Why did you start this podcast? What do you hope to share? People want to get to know you, so don’t hesitate to brag a little bit about your professional accomplishments (as they relate to your podcast).

#2: Content

After you introduce yourself, you’ll want to include a bit more content. The first option is to include a short lesson, takeaway, or piece of advice. The second option is to just share a little bit more information about what they can expect in upcoming episodes. Think of it as almost an extended trailer for your show.

#3: Call to Action

This is important not just for your first episode, but for every episode. You always want to end your episodes by giving your listener something to do. And in your first episode, it usually makes the most sense to ask listeners to subscribe to your podcast, or to leave a review. 

One more question: how long should your first episode be?

Regardless of how long your regular episodes are, your intro episode doesn’t need to be that long. I usually recommend keeping it to 15-20 minutes at max, but it could be even shorter. (Even a 5-10 minute intro episode is perfect!)

Meet the host: Melissa Guller

Hey! I’m Melissa, founder of Wit & Wire. Over the last two years, I’ve produced and hosted two successful podcasts: Everything is Teachable and Book Smart. Outside the microphone, I’ve been an online (and in-person) teacher since 2015, with a combined 6000+ students in my classes and workshops. Oh, and I really love Excel. And ice cream.

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