Episode Zero: How to build momentum for your podcast and have more control over your launch

Episode zero is a short podcast episode (usually 4-6 minutes) that introduces potential listeners to you and your show. No matter the format of your podcast, this introductory episode does a few essential things:

  • Introduces listeners to the host(s) of a show.
  • Explains what the show is about and the benefits a listener will gain by tuning in.
  • Shares the cadence of new episodes and announces when the first episode will air.
  • Makes a strong call to action for the listener to subscribe.

Episode Zero Benefits

In this post, we’re going to look at the benefits of having an episode zero for your podcast and what you’re looking to provide the listener with the episode.

1. A perfect practice run

If you’re new to podcasting, starting with an approachable introductory episode can be a great way to “cut your teeth” on the process of recording. This recording session with help you iron out your setup and become more comfortable behind the mic.

If you have a co-host(s), recording this episode is also a great way to learn and become more comfortable working together and playing off one another. Practice makes perfect, and a practice session that ends with an important evergreen piece of content is time well spent.

2. Hook the listener (it’s a trailer for your show)

This episode is your chance to tell the listener why they should listen to your show. As a listener, I want to know what to expect and how I can benefit from subscribing.

If I listen to your show, will I learn something new; will you tell me an amazing story, or will I be laughing out loud? Tell listeners why they can’t miss out. You want them to have major FOMO and build momentum toward the release of your show.

Here are two examples from drastically different genres of podcast:

First up is Radical Personal Finance, with financial planner Joshua Sheats. Joshua has tons of acronyms behind his name—this guy is super accomplished! In his show, he teaches people how to live a rich life while building a plan for financial freedom in 10 years or less.

Yes, he calls this “episode one,” don’t come for me…it was 2013 when this was recorded. Joshua does a great job of outlining his plan for the show, establishing himself as an expert, what lead him to create the podcast, and finally, how he will help the listener understand and navigate super complex financial topics.

In a completely opposite genre, is My Momma Told Me, with comedian Langston Kerman. In each episode, he and his guest take a look at “the most exciting, groundbreaking and sometimes problematic Black conspiracy theories. They’ll cover silly conspiracies, scary conspiracies, and conspiracies they learned from that uncle who used to wear jeans when he went swimming in the public pool.”

This is such a great episode zero because it gives a brief description of the format and uses clips from his interviews to share just how funny, irreverent, and silly the show is going to be—bonus points for what I consider some of the best podcast intro music out there as well.

3. Build trust and relatability for you and your show

Part of selling your podcast is selling yourself. Episode zero is your opportunity to establish yourself as someone that a listener will want to spend time listening to. Are you and your content relatable to the listener?

Depending on the genre and format of your show, this could be establishing yourself as an expert in your field (like Joshua does in Radical Personal Finance) or establishing yourself as a hilarious comedian that will have the listener laughing from the get-go (like Langston does in My Momma Told Me).

“Trust,” as we’re using it here, means setting the tone and precedence for the type of content you’ll be delivering. If someone decides to listen to your show, they trust that your content will benefit them somehow.

4. Controlling the gap between podcast creation and approval

Submitting your new show to podcast directories takes a few days. There are many different estimates out there, but it’s safest to assume 3-5 business days for completely new podcasts and be happily surprised if it happens more quickly. What we do know, without a doubt, is that you need to have a least one episode of your show to submit to podcast directories.

By publishing episode zero, you’re able to go ahead and submit your podcast to the directories and start that approval process without being held up by it. Once you’re approved, you have more control over the true launch date of your first episode(s), rather than announcing a date and crossing your fingers that it’s approved in time.

4. Builds Momentum

The lag time between episode zero and the release of the first full episode(s) gives you time to build momentum. Because you will have a hard drop date for new show, you’re able to time annoucments and press submissions perfectly.

Bonus tip! Submit your new show to podcast discoverability newsletters and let them help you spread the word. Here are eight newsletters with affordable (or free) submission options.

In the end, recording an episode zero has lots of benefits, and the best way to share it on social media is by using an audiogram video! Headliner is happy to offer a free subscription tier, so there’s no risk. Give it a try!