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Book Summary – So You Want to Start a Podcast (Kristen Meinzer)

So You Want to Start a Podcast - Book summary

Podcasts are one of the fastest-growing media as people become busier and more mobile. If you’re thinking of starting your own podcast for personal interest or to market your business, this is the book for you. Kristen Meinzer, a successful podcast host with more than 10 years’ experience in podcasting, shares how you can find your voice and get the ideas, direction, and know-how to create your own successful show. In this free version of the So You Want to Start a Podcast summary, you’ll learn the 7 steps to creating your own hit show.

7 Steps to Start a Successful Podcast Channel

Kristen Meinzer is a successful podcast host who has reached 10 mil people over 10 years of her podcasting career. She has hosted numerous shows, produced podcasts for various brands, developed shows, taught classes on audio production, and spoken at various conferences. Here are her 7 recommended steps for starting your own podcast channel:

So You Want to Start a Podcast summary - 7 steps to build a show

1. DREAM IT: Define your Whys and Whats

Define your purpose: Why are you starting a podcast?

Don’t start a podcast just because everyone is doing it. Know your “why”, e.g. to build a community around a specific cause, to teach a skill, or to grow the brand for your business. For example, By the Book is a show co-hosted by Meinzer and Jolenta Greenberg. In each episode, they choose a different self-help book, follow it for 2 weeks, then assess if it made a difference. Through this self-help-cum-reality-show concept, they sought to push the boundaries of podcasting and spread empowering messages in an interesting way.

Consider if a podcast is the best method to achieve your goals. Would your “why” be more effectively achieved through a book, blog, video or social media feed?

Define your audience: Who is your podcast for?

Think of your ideal listeners in such detail that they’re like real people you know and love to spend time with. For example, Meinzer and Greenberg wanted By the Book to be for self-help lovers and haters, feminists and comedy fans. These may include single mums, women of color, men listening with their wives, or misfits who want to feel less alone or insecure.

Meinzer and Greenberg each created 2 imaginary audience in their minds. Meinzer’s fictional listeners are Louise and Anwar—one black and one white, one gay and one straight. She knows their personalities, interests, what they do in a typical day, how they were like in high school etc. Each time she has a question (e.g. whether a joke would work or whether it’s ok to curse on the show), she’d imagine how specifically Louise and Anwar would react.

Define on the subject/topic: What is your show about?

Don’t settle for a 1-word answer. For example, it’s not enough to say that your show is about “movies”. Elaborate on the idea, e.g. “Each week, a movie critic interviews 1 person who has had a similar experience as a movie character.”

Explore your concept, then distil it down to 1-3 sentences that summarize your idea and why it’s unique. Make it snappy and practice saying it out loud—you now have an elevator pitch to help you share your concept easily.

Passion: Do you love it enough?

Creating and maintaining a podcast is hard work. So, be honest with yourself: do you really love or care about the topic or outcome enough to keep working on it week after week? How will the podcast will fit into your life?

Below, you’ll find an outline of the remaining 6 steps. For more details and specific tips to guide you through each step, do check out our complete version of the So You Want to Start a Podcast summary.

2. WRITE IT: Define your Format, Structure And Content

This step is about choosing your desired show format, developing and testing a rough structure for the show, and working on your script and title.

3. HOST IT: Select your Ideal Host(s)

Find out why you should consider diversity in selecting your host(s) and team, and how you can do so. A great host doesn’t have to have a specific accent or type of voice—the key is to sound like yourself, but know the techniques for creating a quality podcast. You can also consider having a co-host.

4. CAST IT: Get the Ideal Guests On Your Show

This step is about identify who you want on your show, in order to tell the story you want to tell. Learn about the types of guests, how to get people (including experts and celebrities) to appear on your show, prepare your guests, and conduct a great interview.

5. MAKE IT: Create Your Podcast

Know the key equipment you’ll need, the best ways to record the podcasts with your guests, tips for editing your audio files, and other points to consider (e.g. intellectual property and ideal podcast length).

6. SHARE IT: Distribute your Podcast

Find out what’s involved in creating a release schedule, how to communicate it clearly, distribute your podcast in 4 steps, and make your podcast stand out. You should also start considering some options to monetize your podcast.

7. GROW IT: Promote your Podcast

To grow your podcast, you must promote your show. Learn different ways to get the word out–including how to spread the word via a community–and embrace your new identity as a podcaster.

Getting the Most from So You Want to Start a Podcast

This is a fun, lively book written in short and easy to read chapters. If you’d like to learn more about building your own podcast, do check out the our full book summary bundle which includes an infographic, 14-page text summary, and a 26-minute audio summary.

Besides the tips captured in this summary, the book also includes useful information such as podcast statistics, sample email pitches and confirmation emails for guests. You can purchase the book here or visit for more information.

Learn more about speaking well in our TED Talks summary, or find out more about  using data visualization in our Storytelling with Data summary!

About the Author of So You Want to Start a Podcast

So You Want to Start a Podcast is written by Kristen Meinzer–a podcast host, producer, and former director of nonfiction programming for Panoply. Her hosting credits include Stitcher/Panoply’s By the Book, CNN’s Decades of Movies, and WNYC/PRI’s Movie Date. Her producing credits include Happier with Gretchen Rubin, The Sporkful, Food 52’s Burnt Toast, Girlboss Radio, and other award-winning shows. Kristen’s work has been mentioned in numerous publications including Time, Washington Post, Buzzfeed, and Indiewire.

So You Want to Start a Podcast Quotes

“Podcasts—even the most informative of them—are entertainment, conversation, and companionship.”

“[Listeners] want their hosts to be human, not perfect.”

“Knowing all parts of the machine means you can fix any part of the machine, and it also means you can prevent certain problems from happening in the first place.”

“It’s your show, my friends. Make it sound like you.”

“Talk in stories, not facts…As much as possible, show, don’t tell.”

“Do what you can to make them sound like the truest version of themselves.”

Click here to download the So You Want to Start a Podcast summary & infographic

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