How To Create A Podcast Intro (That Doesn't Suck)

Wait.

Before I dive into this, I want to address something.

You might be thinking, “Don’t you produce podcast intros for a living? And you’re going to tell me how to do it?

Yes. And yes.

Look, not everyone can afford to hire us to produce their intro (and as much as it stabs my ego in the heart to type this… not everyone even WANTS to).

Screen Shot 2018-08-09 at 2.15.00 PM.png

So think of this post as my way of putting some good mojo out into the universe. And maybe the SEO gods will reward me with lots of new people happy to shower me with cash in exchange for the best dang podcast intro & outro ever.

Let’s get into it.

There are really 3 core building blocks of the kind of podcast intros we think are awesome:

  1. Script

  2. Music

  3. Voice

“But Tim… what about the sound effects?!”

I’m actually not a big fan of crazy sound effects and swooshes and echoes and sirens.

There’s been a big shift in our culture lately -- one that’s been reflected incredibly well in the way smart companies are choosing to advertise.

People want REAL.

I see it in every single voiceover audition I get. “Please read this in a conversational, non-announcer style.”

Smart marketers and companies recognize that in order for their marketing to be effective, they need to CONNECT on a higher level than ever before. It’s no longer about bludgeoning people over the head with your sales messages. It’s about connecting, showing people you get them, and bringing them along for the ride.

And I believe that crazy sound effects and over-produced intros are the antithesis of that.

I’m going to drop a cliche. I’m going to do it. Don’t judge me.

K.I.S.S. It really applies here. Keep it simple, stupid.

Ok, back to those building blocks. Let’s talk about them.

 

Script.

 

My dear friend, I know you’re really awesome. You’ve done some amazing things. You have a great story to tell. You want everyone to know, like, and trust you.

And you might even think you need to tell people that in your intro.

Please don’t.

please

The intro has two main jobs:

  1. Get people excited to listen to the show.

  2. Give people a memorable connection to the show -- something they’ll think back to later.

Far too often, I hear intros that are 30 seconds long, full of impressive details about the host. And far too often, I turn the show off before ever hearing it.

Why?

Well, my attention span sucks. And yours probably does too. And your listeners? Theirs probably does too.

Listening

Let’s get people to the content! Fast!

All you need to do is give them the gist of what the show is all about, quickly brand yourself, and get them in there.

My favorite script I’ve ever written was for the James Altucher show. It went like this:

“This isn’t your average business podcast, and he’s not your average host. This is the James Altucher Show on the Choose Yourself Network.”

Two lines. Really simple. Straight to the point.

You get that he’s a weirdo. You get that he’s special and unique. And you get that it’s about business. And then James can do this thing.

And here’s the thing -- if you know James Altucher, you know I could have said a whole lot of amazing things about him. The dude is incredible. He’s inspirational. He’s done stuff most of us will never get close to doing.

But I’ll let him get to that. I’ll let his show do the talking. I’ll let his expertise do the talking. I’ll let his guests do the talking. I’m just there to set the tone and get people to you. That’s all.

So how do you come up with your script?

Well, ask yourself… what’s the one key thing about your show that makes it worth listening to?

Is it that you have some unique take on a tired old topic? That your show does things in such a unique way? That you have some odd experience that makes your perspective amazing?

Tell it and get out of the way.

Let’s say you talk about health and fitness.

How do you differentiate yourself?

Perhaps you’re different because you think carbs are the best thing since sliced bre… wait…

bread

Aaaanyway…

Your intro could say:

“If your favorite things are your six pack, your other six pack, and your secret stash of Snickers bars, this is your show. Welcome to The Carb Captain Podcast with Monica Muscles.”

Nailed it, right?

Here’s another one (a real one)…

My friend Rick Mulready has a show where he talks a lot about Facebook Ads -- a super saturated market. But Rick himself is a unique guy. He’s cool, he’s fun, he’s a rocker.

His intro is like this:

“What do you get when you combine simplified digital marketing, proven ROI strategies and Metallica blasting from his headphones? You get Rick Mulready, of course. So strap in, grab your bulletproof coffee, and get ready because this is The Art of Paid Traffic. Here’s Rick…”

3 ½ sentences. Perfectly sums up the show. And you instantly relate (or don’t) to Rick.

Need another option for your script?

Try being pinpoint precise about your value proposition (what people will get out of listening to your show).

“You’re about to learn how to flip houses without taking out a loan, even if you have no idea where to start. This is The Flip Show with Flip Williams!”

“What do you do if you want to sell your business for top dollar? You listen to The Exit Plan, with Suzie Sellers. Hey… lucky you… you’re already here! Here’s Suzie.”

“If no amount of lullabies can get your kid to sleep at night, don’t lose hope. A full night’s sleep for your baby is in your future, when you listen to The Baby Sleep Show. Here’s your host, certified baby sleep expert, Sleepy Sam.”

I’ve got a worksheet you can use to help you write your script. It’s free… or is it? (Yeah, it is.) Click the button below to grab it.

 

Music.

 

If I had a dollar for every time I heard the same song being used on a bunch of different podcasts, I’d have at least like $23.

Here’s the deal with music: If there’s one thing that’s going to stick in peoples’ minds and make them think of you again and again, it’s music.

Which is funny, because it won’t really help them remember the details of your show, and has nothing to do (in general) with the great stuff they learn from your show…

But music is catchy. It stands out.

My favorite example of this is The Dave Ramsey Show. I literally can’t hear “Baker Street” without thinking of Dave Ramsey. “Do, dee do doo, dum dum dah… do, dee do doo, dum dum dah dannn, waaaaaaaahhh.” Every time.

Now you probably aren’t going to pony up the cash to pay for the rights to a song like “Baker Street”, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a song that people will instantly identify with you.

A couple things to consider when it comes to music:

First off, what’s the tone of the show?

This one is probably obvious, but this wouldn’t be a comprehensive guide if I didn’t mention it.

If your show is somber, relaxed, etc, it doesn’t make sense to start the show with some dubstep (is dubstep even still a thing?).

I won’t continue to hammer this point home -- but just consider the tone you want to set.

Second, what’s reflective of you?

I think a lot of the time, it’s easy to get caught up in what we think our listeners will want to hear.

You’ve got a podcast about business, so you use some corporate elevator music. You’ve got a fitness show, so it’s upbeat techno. A movie podcast with trailer music.

And all of that is fine, but remember how personal a podcast is.

People are going to stick around because they relate to you. You reflect something in them that they see (or want to see) in themselves. They like you for you. (There’s a Blessid Union Of Souls reference in there somewhere... hello, 2001!)

Don’t be afraid to be reflective of who you are and what your style is.

I wouldn’t hate listening to a podcast about parenting that started off with a heavy metal song. Don’t we all sometimes feel like venting our parenting frustration in a mosh pit? What… just me?

Get what I’m saying? Be reflective of your uniqueness.

Going back to Rick Mulready -- his Facebook Ads show has a head banging rock song starting it out. Totally his style. You get what you’re in for.

Finally, would it be worth doing something totally different and weird?

Maybe your show starts off with a really unique style of music you might not think of.

How about just some percussion? Maybe you hire out someone to create a song specifically for you? Maybe since your show is gonna be super high energy, you start off with something more laid back to give just a bit of contrast to the craziness of you? (And the voice talent who voices your intro should be laid back too).

Don’t be afraid to try something different.

Want a couple of resources for finding great music? We’ve got our own directory, but you could check out:

One thing to note, though. When you grab your music -- make sure you get the appropriate license.

Most sites will allow you a certain amount of listens or downloads for one license, but if you get more than that, you’ll need a bigger license.

My suggestion? Buy the license you think you’ll need some day. Trust me -- when your show blows up down the road, you won’t be thinking, “My show is blowing up! I should upgrade my license for my intro music.”

And just a note… when you hire us, you get a lifetime, unlimited license to the music. Just sayin’.

Voice.

 

I won’t lie, this building block of your intro has the most potential to get me all riled up, so I’m going to try to rein it in.

Yes, I am biased, but please trust me on this... When it comes to the voice for your intro or outro, if you really care about your podcast (and I know you do, or you wouldn’t have made it this far), there are truly only two viable choices:

  1. Voice it yourself

  2. Hire a superawesomebadass professional

Notice that one of the choices is not “use *that* website to hire someone for cheap.” (If you’re not sure which site to which I’m referring… consider yourself lucky.)

Please… please trust me on this.

Although the average person may not be able to tell the difference between someone with an ok recording set up who has an ok voice and a professional voice talent in a professional studio… it DOES make a huge difference.

A superawesomebadass professional voice actor can get your listeners to feel however you want them to feel.

You can find people who will record a voiceover for you that sounds just fine, but they won’t be able to completely nail the exact tone you’re looking for, without you being able to tell them what that tone is.

They won’t be able to connect to your audience.

They won’t emphasize the right words, the right way, subtly.

They will likely focus entirely on “sounding good”, instead of telling a story with the limited script they have.

So, I return to my choices: do it yourself, or hire a professional.

My top recommendation is very much to hire a professional, but if you’re not going to do that, I’d suggest doing it yourself.

A few things to note if you’re going to do it yourself.

First, make sure you’re recording in a well-treated space.

The best microphone in the world will still sound like hot garbage if it’s being used in a poorly treated space.

The cardinal sin of recording your voice? Room reverb. Room reverb is your voice bouncing off the walls around you. A lot of people will call it echo, but it’s a bit different.

When your recording has a bunch of room reverb and you go to put it over a music bed, your voice will sound like a spaceship full of nails crashing into a chalkboard factory… in other words… bad.

gears

The easy fix for this is to record in a closet full of clothes. I’ve recorded huge national network promos in hotel closets full of my clothes and my clients have been nonethewiser.

Second, be you.

I know I keep saying this, but your audience will really tune in because they connect with you. If you insist on being your own voice talent for your intro, bring all of yourself. Don’t try and change your sound just because it’s your intro.

So what if you want to hire a professional, and you’re going to be smart and actually get someone who’s worth their salt?

Well, obviously I’m going to tell you about our roster.

The folks on our roster are some of the absolute best in the world. They’re characters in your favorite video games. They’re in animated films. They voice major movie trailers. TV promos. Commercials. Podcasts. They’re the voices of your favorite local news networks

These folks are world-class.

But, if you wanna be a jerk and go somewhere else (I’m kidding, we’ll totally stay friends), my best suggestion would be to go through a talent agency.

Yes, there are casting websites, and you can get lots of auditions that way… but it’s really hard to know what to listen for (and you’ll be inundated with a mix of pros and amateurs).

Talent agents will be able to help you find just the right voice for your project -- and best of all, they only sign pros. So you’ll never get sent someone who sucks.

If you’d like a referral to some great agencies, send me an email and I’ll happily refer you.

Or… ya know, you could just save yourself the time and hassle and just hire us. The choice is yours.

 

Putting it all together.

 

Now you’ve got the building blocks. If you’ve followed my advice, I applaud you. You recognize my genius.

Putting it all together into a great sounding production can be really simple, or you can do some ninja stuff and make it sound extra amazing.

Unless you’re an experienced audio producer, I’d encourage you to keep it really simple. Otherwise, you run the risk of trying to overproduce and making it sound worse than if you just went the simple route.

I’ll assume that since you’re a podcaster, you’re using some kind of recording software. I use Adobe Audition, but it’s not a requirement.

The simplest way to put it all together is to put your music on one track and your voice on another. Take a listen and adjust the volume levels of each so that the voice is clear and easy to hear.

If you used a professional voice actor, they probably sent you a recording that sounds perfect. If not, you’ll probably want to apply a little bit of compression and then normalize it to -3dB.

In summary...

Don’t forget to download the script writing worksheet by clicking the button below. It really is free (I was just pulling your leg up there).

And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say this…

I hope this guide helps you, but if after reading this all, you’ve decided it’s too much work and you’d rather just hire a pro team to do it for you… ahem… allow us to be that pro team!

When you hire us, we write your script, find your music, choose your voice actor (from our amazing roster), and produce it all for you.

It’s literally the easiest process you could imagine -- and we’re really dang good at what we do.

Stop Asking For Ratings & Reviews (Do This Instead)

Think back to every time you’ve ever listened to a podcast episode — specifically, one where the host has said “be sure to subscribe to our podcast, and don’t forget to rate and review the podcast in iTunes so we can continue to bring you great content….” etc etc. 

What did you do, immediately following said podcast’s call-to-action?

I’d be willing to bet you DIDN’T immediately subscribe, rate, and review their podcast. And if you’re honest with yourself, if you loved the podcast you might have subscribed. But chances are you still didn’t rate and review.

Why?

Because there is absolutely nothing compelling about rating and reviewing a podcast. What’s in it for the listener? Nothing. Consuming media, by nature, is a selfish activity. 

You feel like you’re just one person, and you rating and reviewing won’t mean much to the host, even if you ARE compelled to help.

There’s absolutely zero urgency. Why do you have to go do it NOW? What will you miss out if you don’t? Nothing.

So drop the “rate and review” call-to-action (at least within your episodes). This is the least likely way for you to monetize your podcast and grow your business.

You might balk at that notion, but listen -- I know you’re here to serve your audience (and if you’re not, you should be). But if you’re reading this post, you’re also running a business… and revenue is a motivator.

Some would argue with me (but they’re wrong) when I say that ratings and reviews are absolutely NOT the best way to lead to increased revenue for your business from your podcast.

Yes, they can increase your rankings in iTunes.

Yes, they tell the few other listeners who check out Ratings & Reviews before listening that your show is worth listening to. 

But this is the trap podcasters fall into. These “easy asks” feel like they’re a low friction call-to-action. And they are, because you’re not asking for email, money, etc. But in reality, not asking for bigger things is sinking your podcast at the same rate that NOT asking for anything would.

So occasionally, you’ll have to think of how you can best serve your audience AND increase revenue for your business.

The good news is, you can do both. Not only that, but this seemingly big ask will get more action than asking for a rating and review.

“Alright, alright already. I get it. So, what should I do instead?”

It’s time to use your precious podcast CTA for more high impact purposes where your listener actually gives a crap.

“Like what, Tim?” (Great, now I’m talking to myself in a blog post)

  • A Content Upgrade (a free download that enhances what your podcast episode talked about, but that they have to opt-in to get)
  • A webinar registration invite
  • An invitation to join your Facebook group
  • A sales offer (if it’s relevant to that particular episode)

This is obviously not a comprehensive list, but any one of these four CTA’s is significantly higher impact and higher value than asking for a Rating and Review. 

For those claiming you can ask for ratings and reviews AND the above actions, it’s time for a reality check — most podcast listeners will only take one action you ask of them.  People aren’t sitting there waiting for you to tell them what to do over and over. “Go rate and review. Now download this lead magnet. Now buy my stuff. Now tell your friends.” And I realize that’s exaggerated — but not by much.

I’m going to go more in-depth on these CTA’s in future posts, but to get you started, I’ve created a free download for you to give you an example of each one of the above CTA’s in a real world application. 

These are some of my favorite examples on actual podcast episodes, and you’ll get to hear how the host offers them in a compelling, relevant, clear way, to give you an idea of how you can incorporate them into your own show.

One last thing. I know you probably still want ratings & reviews. So… should you just wait and let them come organically as people are so blown away by the incredible content in your show?

That’s one way to do it.

But here’s a better way: Use your email marketing. I’m not going in depth on it here, but I’ll give you one tip that’s worked for me.

In the P.S. section of your welcome email, invite people to rate and review your show. Here’s an example:

P.S. If you’re enjoying the show, it’s safe to assume there are others out there like you who would also enjoy the show. Help them find it. Click here to rate and review the show in iTunes. Those people will appreciate it, and you’ll feel great about yourself.

I hope that helps.

Do you have a compelling CTA in your podcast that could help fellow podcasters get great results? Post a link to the episode in the comments section below, and I’ll try and give you some feedback!

Using Your Podcast To Generate Leads

Are you using your podcast to grow your email list? 

If the answer is no... then why not? The world's most successful podcasters (whether the podcast is the entire business, or whether it's a marketing leg of a business) are using their podcasts as a powerful lead generation tool.

If the answer is yes, then you might have noticed that your list isn't growing as quickly as you thought it would. Maybe you've got lots of downloads for each episode, great engagement, people leaving comments on your show notes, etc... and yet people still don't seem to be opting in. What's the deal?

The problem with podcasts:

Podcasts aren't the most efficient tool for list building. If I was starting from scratch and my primary focus was list growth, the first thing I did wouldn't be to start a podcast. There are plenty of other, more effective ways to grow your list.

Think about it - these are people who like AUDIO. We listen to podcasts because they're convenient. But traditional opt-in methods aren't convenient at all, at least not if you're on the go. I don't often listen to a podcast at home sitting at my desk. Usually I'm at the gym, in my car, or in some other place where audio is simply the best way for me to absorb info or get entertainment.

So why am I even talking about this?

Because even though podcasts aren't my favorite method for rapid list building, they are one of my favorites for ENGAGED list building. Studies show that email subscribers that come from podcasts are more likely to open emails, click links through them, and follow through with calls to action. We've seen it at LeadPages, I've seen it here at MakeMyIntro, and countless podcasting friends have seen it.

How to fail at list building from a podcast:

  • "Subscribe now for free updates" -- no thanks. I'm already subscribed to your podcast. I get updates automatically on my iPhone. Why do I want to see the notification of a new podcast episode from the Podcasts app AND get an email about it? 
  • No opt-in forms at all -- Yes, this really happens. If you don't have any opt-in forms, get one up, right now. I'll give some suggestions shortly for what to put on it, but start with something.
  • "Help me out" -- again, sounds stupid, but I see it and hear it all the time. Stop asking people to "help you out." Sure, people are good hearted and well-intentioned... but that doesn't mean you're going to stick in their minds. And the people who opt-in to "help you out" are not the same people who will read every email, click every link, and purchase whatever you have for sale.
  • "Go to www.mypodcastwebsite.com and enter your email address in the form to the right of my website to download the free whatever whatever." -- You're making it too complicated. If I'm at the gym, now you're asking me to put down the massive weights I'm pushing as I continue my journey to getting completely ripped (please read that with the sarcastic tone it is intended with), type in your website address, scroll around to find the form, type in my email, click the button... call me lazy, but that's a lot to do when I'm already in focus mode and trying to listen to your dang podcast.

Better options:

  • A specific call to action with a specific lead magnet on a specific landing page -- Most often, I'm listening to the specific episode I'm listening to at that moment because I believe it provides value to me. Therefore, a lead magnet that increases that value (we call it a "content upgrade") is much more likely to get me to opt-in. Putting it on a landing page that's mobile responsive increases that likelihood even more. Making the url direct to only that landing page? That's a winner.
  • Use mobile opt-in -- LeadPages just came out with an amazing tool called LeadDigits which allows you to collect opt-ins via text messaging. So someone could text "eofire" to 33444, then they'd get a text saying something like "Are you prepared to ignite? Reply with your email address", and when they do, they're now on your list. It's simple, and people won't have to take a bunch of time away from what they're already doing.
  • Make every offer compelling -- Stop using lame calls to action like "help me out" or "support the show" or "share with others so they can listen to this fantastic show." They're fine if you don't really care about results, but if you want to grow your list (obviously you do since you're reading this), give people something they really want. Make it so compelling that they don't care what they're doing because they don't want to miss out on the thing you're offering.

This is just a basic overview of some great list building strategies for your podcast. If you want more posts going a bit more in depth on this stuff, let me know in the comments and I'll make it happen.

Getting Results From Your Intro and Outro

Did you know that there are separate and distinct goals that your intro and outro should be trying to accomplish?

Seriously — and focusing on these goals can help you get whatever results you want with your podcast. Failing to do so could be costing you big time.

Alright, so what are they?

Your intro has two main goals.

Podcast Intro Goal #1: Set the tone for the rest of your show.

Have you ever heard a podcast intro that was just… blah? The recording quality was awful, the music was tinny, and it seemed highly incongruent with what you thought the show was about?

I have, and I’ve clicked off almost every single time. Why is that? Because the intro is the first impression your show gets to make. And if my first impression is that you don’t care enough to have an intro that’s remotely pleasing, then the content isn’t likely to be great either. Sure, there are exceptions to that rule, but in most cases, I’m right.

Besides that, if your show is exciting, I want your intro to excite me. If it’s scary, I want it to frighten me. 

A perfect example from TV — do you remember the old school Nickelodeon show “Are You Afraid Of The Dark?”, because I do! I loved that show when I was younger. One of my favorite parts was the intro. It was (and still is) one of the creepiest intros I’ve ever seen, and it set the tone for the dark, creepy, scary show that was about to start. 

The right podcast intro can have the same effect.

Podcast Intro Goal #2: Get your target audience to keep listening.

The right intro will speak to your target audience perfectly. Got a show about losing weight? The intro should quickly show the listener that you understand what they’re going through, and tell them what results they could get through listening to your show. I’m not saying you should promise them they’ll lose 100 pounds next week… that would be a lie.

But appealing to your audience and letting them know what you want to help them with will ensure that they give your show a fair shake. 

What your intro SHOULDN’T be:

It’s not an “about the host-fest”. Yes, it’s fine to mention a reason why you’re qualified to listen. Back to the weight loss example — if you’re a weight loss expert who has helped over 100 people lose a combined total of 900 pounds or something, that’s a great thing to mention. Or, maybe you were once overweight and now run marathons. Yep, that’s great. 

But we don’t need your resume. We don’t even really need the bullet points. One major thing that shows that I should listen to you, get me pumped, and then get into the show.

Podcast Outro Goal: Get the listener to take action.

It’s a little bit tougher to define this part, because not all podcasts are designed for the same thing. Some are for businesses. Others for fun. Maybe to give back. Whatever your intentions are, the outro is an awesome place to tell people to do something. 

And just a note here — A few people recently have told me that outros are pointless because “no one listens to them” — that’s hogwash. I’ve got thousands of email list subscribers who opted in to an exclusive giveaway only offered in the outro to prove it. People DO listen to your outro, so don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s pointless.

With that said — a COMPELLING call-to-action belongs in your outro. And unfortunately, “subscribe, rate, and review” is not a compelling call-to-action. When people are listening to your podcast, they’re usually doing other things — often they’re not sitting at a computer desperately waiting for you to ask them to subscribe, rate, and review. Instead, they’re out running, driving, doing the dishes, whatever. And hours later, when they finally get to a computer, they’ve already forgotten your request. 

Remember this: WIIFM. What’s In It For Me. That’s what everyone wants to know, even if they don’t know it. People are busy. They’ve got a lot on their minds. So instead of asking them to do something that really doesn’t offer them any value — provide something THEY want in exchange for something YOU want. 

And if I can try and steer you in one direction or another — the best thing you can ask people to do is opt-in (give you their email address). It gives you the opportunity to reach out to your listeners where they already are. There’s no guarantee they’ll ever listen to your show again, but you KNOW they’re not ignoring their email. 

I’ll give you some ideas for really effective ways to get them to opt-in in a future post, but for now — make the call to action compelling, and offer them something of value — an ebook, PDF report, or other gift… but REALLY make them want it. It doesn’t have to take you a lot of time, and it doesn’t have to be the world’s most valuable giveaway, but it does have to clearly solve your listener’s problem.

Phew, this was a longer post than I planned to write, but it’s important. If you’ve read this far, you’re already ahead of so many other podcasters. Now implement. And if you want our team’s help accomplishing the goals I laid out above, just head over to to the pricing page — we’ll write the script, find the songs, and craft the perfect intro and outro for your show, so you can get the progress you work so hard for.

Until next time, podcast on!