PodSchool Podcast | Should you launch your podcast with episode 0?


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Do you need to tell your audience what’s coming?

“Episode 0” is really just a wanky way of saying “introductory episode.”

This is the episode that sets up your show.  It’s also a place for you to introduce yourself to your audience and gives you some audio to submit to podcast directories.

iTunes Google Podcasts Stitcher Spotify

Do you have to have an Episode 0?


For a while podcast experts were suggesting you should open the feed of your show with multiple episodes.

The conventional wisdom was, if you have five episodes in there, that’s potentially five times the downloads which means your show will have a good chance of featuring in Apple Podcasts New & Noteworthy.

Unfortunately, there are a few problems with that theory.

The first is that New & Noteworthy is curated so trying to “trick” an algorithm isn’t going to get you very far.  Also, having multiple episodes in your feed doesn’t guarantee they’ll all be downloaded.

Most people have the default setting, on their podcast app, of only downloading the latest episode when they subscribe.  That means multiple episodes in your feed isn’t a guarantee of multiple downloads.

How to promote your podcast before it’s live


So why do it?

It gives you an opportunity to tell people why they should listen

If you’ve recorded episodes ahead of time and you’ve got great audio snippets of upcoming shows, why not feature them in an intro episode?  This is a great way to give people a taste of what’s to come.

Ideally, you want people to subscribe to your show, so highlighting some of the best bits can get people thinking “I want to listen to this when it drops!”

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It allows you to introduce yourself

Ideally, when you get into the first real episode you’ll be jumping straight into killer content.   But an introductory episode can give you the space to share your expertise with the audience.

This is really useful if you’re doing a show where you’re going to be teaching people something or sharing your knowledge.

Setting yourself up as an expert in the space is important because people need to know they can trust your advice and an intro episode can be a great place to do that.

iTunes Google Podcasts Stitcher Spotify

It helps you build momentum

If you’ve got good content in that introductory episode you can start to share it before the show is live.

This can help you get early subscribers in the door which can help you rank in the charts when your first episode drops.

It’ll also help you build buzz around the launch.

iTunes Google Podcasts Stitcher Spotify

It gives you more control over when your first episode drops

To submit a show to podcast directories like iTunes you need to have an MP3 in the feed.

The problem with this is you have no control over how long it will take your show to appear in Apple Podcasts.

It’s usually about 48 hours but when you’re kicking off your show you want to be as specific as possible about when it’s going to go live.  So that’s where having an introductory episode can come in handy.

If you start your feed with episode 0 you can submit the podcast well in advance.  That way, when you say “my show will be live next Tuesday” that’s exactly when it’ll be there.

It’s important to note this delay only happens when you submit your podcast to directories for the first time.  Once the show has been accepted the feed will update straight away every time you publish a new episode.

Got a burning podcasting question you’d like answered? Send me an email.

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.

Got some time on your hands? Read the full episode transcript

[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the show and a big shout out to Fiona who is the inspiration for today's episode. Fiona is about to release her very first podcast and she e-mail's me to ask me about whether or not she should do an episode zero. If you've never heard that term before that's basically the wanky way of saying an introductory episode and the big question is whether or not you want to clutter up your podcast feed with an episode that could just be the equivalent of an 'about page'. It's really important that you have a think about why you are doing an introductory episode and if the answer to that question is "because I think I should" then let me be the person to give you the permission to forget about it. The last thing you want to do is waste that all important real estate of your very first episode to just fill it with a whole bunch of "this is what the show is about" stuff that could be accomplished in a simple one line introduction at the beginning of every episode. That's something you really should be doing anyway. You'll notice on the PodSchool Podcast I have my lovely voice over guy summing up the show in a single line. I have the same thing for my show 'You've Gotta Start Somewhere." That's the way people who've never listened to the show can immediately get on board with the concept and understand exactly what's coming up.

[00:01:23] In fact most people that come to your show will listen from the latest episode backwards and more often than not when they get to an introductory episode think "oh well that's probably not really important, I won't bother listening to it." Having said that I did an introductory episode for my interview series, You've Gotta Start Somewhere, so I thought I'd explain a little bit about why I did that so you could get a sense of whether or not that makes sense for your show. You've Gotta Start Somewhere is an interview series with media celebrities about how they got in to the business and I had recorded a bunch of episodes before the show went live because I wanted to get ahead of myself when it came to scheduling. So for me I had a whole bunch of content that meant I could actually add value to that very first episode and demonstrate exactly what the show was going to be about rather than trying to explain it on social media or having an introductory episode that just says "each week I'm going to talk to a media celebrity about this." What I did in that introductory episode was give a quick sum up of the concept and then I went through and highlighted three upcoming episodes for people to get a sense of exactly the kind of stories I was going to be getting from these people. Because the guests on my show have a high profile in Australian media I edited little snippets from those interviews that would be of interest to people who follow them. So it was a way that I could demonstrate the value of the show before the actual show got started. The other reason that I did it was I wanted to pre promote the show I didn't just want to have that very first episode there in the feed and start saying "hey I've got a podcast" I wanted to have a bit of a lead up to actually having that first episode so I could create some momentum leading into the very first proper interview. I also wanted a little bit more control over knowing when it was going to hit iTunes. When you first release your show and you submit that show to iTunes you have to have an episode already in your feed for iTunes to accept it. The issue here though is when you submit your show you've got no control over when that show is going to pop up. It's usually about 48 hours but I wanted to know that there was an episode there that I could point people to so that when I actually uploaded my very first real interview that would go live immediately. This might sound all very confusing but for me I was scheduling my episodes ahead of time which meant that when my episode goes live so do the show notes page for that episode, so does the social media scheduling, so that meant I needed to know that when the show notes page and the social media went live the episode was going to be there in iTunes. And you need to have that first ever episode out of the way to have that kind of control over your feed.

[00:04:39] The other reason that you might think about doing an introductory episode is if there is some information you need to give to your audience to get everybody on the same page. You are still sharing content but it also gives you a great reference point for people joining the show later where you can say "oh if you haven't done this you can head back to my introductory episode where I explain all of the steps you need to get up to speed.

[00:05:05] If you decide that you do have some great quality content to put in that introductory episode then make sure you include a little bit about you, when they can expect to see a new episode so they know when to check in and what they can expect from the show.

[00:05:19] As long as you're doing it for the right reasons, because it feels completely right for your content then go for it. There is nothing wrong with having an intro episode but if you're doing it because you think it's going to be great for your download numbers or you think that's a way to get into New and Noteworthy or you've just seen other people do it, then don't worry about it.

[00:05:37] Every single patch of real estate on your podcast feed is very very valuable, so it's important you only put the best stuff in there to encourage people to listen so that every single interaction they have with your content they think "Man this is great!" You never want to have anybody listening to an episode going on "Well that was a waste of my time." And if you just put your 'about page' in the intro episode then that's probably what people are going to think.

[00:06:03] So trust your gut on this one and you have my personal permission to f*&% it right off. If you don't want to do it, it's entirely up to you. It is your show and just because you've seen other people do it doesn't mean you need to do it as well.

[00:06:18] I hope that's helped you work out whether or not you should do an introductory episode for your podcast. If like Fiona you have a question that you need answered then please head to PodSchoolPodcast.com and hit the contact page there. Send me an email and I will answer your question on the show. If you head to that website you'll also find links to my podcasting tech guide which will give you all of the tools and tech you need to get started if you're not sure how to set up a home studio that will help you out. There's also a link to my podcasting course PodSchool which takes you through everything from coming up with an idea to monetising your show.

[00:06:56] Thanks so much for tuning in, please leave a review if you are enjoying the tips and finding them useful and until next week...happy podcasting.

  1. Fiona says:

    This is really helpful. Thanks so much Rachel for taking the time to answer.

    1. Caoline says:

      Cant wait to hear your podcast Fiona!

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Discover all the tools and tech you need to get your podcast started. Plus get access to my weekly podcasting tips delivered straight to your inbox!