Goal Digger Coaching: How to Start and Grow a Podcast

Jenna Kutcher 

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June 3, 2019


how to start a podcast

If this isn’t one of the most requested topics for an episode of Goal Digger, I don’t know what is: how to start a podcast.

When I started the Goal Digger Podcast with my teammate Caitlyn, I was balancing my computer on my lap in the car so the dogs wouldn’t bark and mess up the recording. Now? Well, I wish I could say I had a fancy studio, but all of this happens from a spare closet at my house, with a simple mic setup, some Internet magic, and a whole lot of help from my team. I’ve learned so much from day one of starting a podcast. 18 million downloads later… A number that truly knocks the wind out of me, my team and I have our podcast system down to a science that allows us to work ahead and release FREE quality content two times a week just for you.

Now, I’m asked all the time: What do I need to start a podcast? What do you use to record? How do I get sponsors and make money? Should I outsource any step of the process? Today, I’m answering those questions and more with a special guest, Tori Maloney. Yup, this is another Goal Digger Coaching Session, and I’m sitting up to the mic to work through some podcasting challenges with a Goal Digger like you.

Tori is a wedding and elopement photographer in Ohio who has recently added educator to her title. She loves teaching and photography, and she loves stories. So much so, that she and her friend Ana are working together to launch a podcast featuring other people’s stories. I’m so excited to hear all about their podcasting journey so far and talk through some of the lessons I learned along the way so they can launch their show with confidence.

If a podcast is something you’re dreaming of launching, press play (or keep reading)! Let’s get this Goal Digger Coaching Session about how to start a podcast started!

What is Your Mission?

Tori and a friend are launching a podcast called Keep Me Company, with the idea that podcasts often do exactly that: They keep us company at home, on long car rides, while we’re running… I love this idea! And I think they’re off to a great start with a solid concept in mind. I challenged Tori to narrow in on the mission of their show.

For me, I had an a-ha moment while listening to Amy Porterfield’s podcast. I knew my blog and my Instagram could only share my voice so far, and I want to teach people for free. My podcast is a way to teach, totally for free, and if my audience wants more help on topic, my courses and programs are available. There was a lot of strategy behind starting Goal Digger — And I encourage you to look at your mission and how it ties into your overall strategy.

Are you starting a podcast to be a money-making business? Is it a generous gesture, offering something for free to your audience? It’s okay to be honest with yourself here. It might start as a passion project (as Tori mentioned in our coaching session) and then evolve into a money-maker. Because wouldn’t that be great?

My Sponsorship Evolution

Let me share with you what the show looked like at the beginning as far as income goes… First off, you should know that podcasting is more than just sitting up to the mic, pressing record, and you’re done. You dream up a concept, get guests or write content, record, edit, publish, promote… And the list goes on. It can get expensive if you start outsourcing these tasks, too.

At the start, my goal was to just cover expenses. So I approached HoneyBook (I’ve been using their platform forever) and asked if they’d help make the show happen. They paid me just $200 an episode, which was huge back then! This paid for the cost of editing and other expenses.

Then, we eliminated sponsors on the show altogether and used it as a way to grow my email list. This actually helped move the needle in my business because people on my email list were getting served content and information about my programs so they could purchase if they wanted more specialized training on a topic we covered on Goal Digger. But I have to be honest here… It cost us a lot of money. Like six-figures in a quarter, money.

We entered the next phase of sponsorship of the show just as I was entering my pregnancy. I knew we needed help on the show and that help needed to be in the form of sponsors.

Think Differently about Sponsorships

Podcast sponsorships are based on the number of downloads you get per episode, and rates are usually calculated in CPM — cost per thousand. If the industry standard is $25 CPM, a show with 1000 downloads might only charge $25 per ad. However, this is all negotiable on your own terms if you aren’t working with an agency at first.

I want you to think a little differently about sponsorships. Something I didn’t think about when I first started this show was that people are always going back to Episode 001. It doesn’t matter how many impressive names are on our interview roster, or what new and current topic I’m discussing on the show, when people find Goal Digger, more than likely they’re starting at the very beginning.

I don’t think I thought about this when we launched. Here’s my advice to you (and to Tori): From episode number one, think about how you can be strategic with your content and what you’re sharing before you get caught up in the sponsorship discussion. Maybe you offer a free download or something of value to the listener on your website, so they’ll give you their email address. If you’re not building an email list, or leveraging your podcast to do so, I challenge you to make that part of your plan!

Or, instead of pitching sponsors to make a dollar each episode, consider sharing affiliate links instead. In this episode, I shared an example about HoneyBook and how I directed people to my affiliate link where I earned commission income every time someone purchased through that link. I could still say, “This show is supported by HoneyBook!” even though they weren’t directly paying for an ad.

Think about the services you use every day — Maybe it’s Uber or Postmates or an app that gives you a referral code… You can create a landing page for yourself that links to your referral code. If someone hears your link in a podcast episode and signs up, BOOM! You’ve got yourself some commission dollars… Or at least a free delivery from Postmates.

Managing the Workflow

When I started this whole thing I was a little bit blind to the amount of work that goes into producing a show, especially now that we’ve grown to this size. I don’t say that to play the martyr card, because I truly love what I do, but it’s definitely a bigger task than sitting up to a mic and pressing record.

First off, creating a workflow and management system from day one is key. We did not do this. We relied on the email inbox to track guests and assets, and it got a little overwhelming. When Kylie came in (she is SO Type A) she created several trackers in Google Sheets to look after every moving piece of the show.

We have a guest tracker that tracks all correspondence from guests, when we reached out, if they’re interested, if we’ve received their bio and headshots, and more. We also have a content tracker that details every phase of the episode process, from title to show notes, all the way down to Facebook scheduling and following up with guests to ensure they’re helping to promote the episode.

My Best Advice for New Podcasters

You will feel so much pressure to do it “the right way”. I remember being so nervous about my first shows, that I was going to create it the wrong way, that I’d begin with the wrong format and have to stick with it forever. But if you’ve been listening from day one, you know just how much this show has changed.

Give yourself the autonomy to just start. Know that you can ebb and flow as time goes on. You don’t need to have everything DONE to START.

More from This Episode

Do you need a team for your show? What choices are key at the beginning? What’s the best marketing strategy for a new show? What should your call to action be for the first shows? And what might surprise you about podcast reporting and metrics… It’s all in this episode. Press play on the player above for the full coaching session about how to start a podcast with Tori.


Click here to get my Brand New Program, The Podcast Lab 


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Before you get any further... Hi! I'm Jenna Kutcher!

A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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