Over the last year and a half, I’ve completed 190 writing projects repurposing podcasts into articles and blogs. 

That doesn’t account for projects with multiple articles in them, and it doesn’t account for YouTube videos that are podcast-y. 

So the actual article count is well into the 250-300 territory. 

For work, then (never mind my personal podcast listening), I’ve listened to over 250 podcast episodes in the last year and a half. 

And one thing I’ve learned from consuming so much podcast content is this:

  • Some are good. 
  • Some are bad. 

And you know that, too. 

Everyone’s going to connect with some podcasts over others. There are tons of things that make a podcast good or not—content, length, host, tone, sound quality, style, and many other factors. 

But after listening to so many podcasts in the last year, I think there are two essential ingredients for a good podcast:

  1. It pulls you in with a story. 
  2. It lets you go with some next steps. 

I’ll dive into each a bit further. 

Start with Story

I always know within a few minutes of listening to a podcast if I’ll like it or not—if it will be a slog to listen to. 

And that’s because good podcasts always start with a story. 

I don’t mean a literal story about something that happened (though that’s good too), but I mean story in the broader sense—connection, intrigue, and personality. 

There are a few great ways to do this in a podcast: 

  • Literally open with a story: The podcast host opens by sharing something personal from their life, connecting with listeners on an interpersonal level. Often the most interesting part of this is when they continue on a topic or story that listeners are already invested in, like giving updates on a project or initiative they’re working on. 
  • Put the highlights at the start: I love it when podcasts start with a sound bite from later in the interview right at the beginning. It sets the tone, captures your interest, and lets you know what’s coming. 
  • Tell me what you’re learning: If the podcast is more educational and informative, I love it when hosts open up with something they’re learning about. It could be a book, a new study, or a thought-provoking question. Anything to spark my curiosity in the topic. 
  • Humour and personality: My favourite podcasts are ones where I understand the hosts personality right off the bat. They bring some humour and personality into the podcast, either by sharing about their personal life or connecting warmly with their guests. There are unscripted, imperfect, and authentic moments that really draw you in as a listener. 

A good intro to a podcast sets the tone for the rest of it. It should spark some intrigue and pull you in. There needs to be some personality and authenticity to it. 

Strong stories pull you in. At times I’ll even forget I’m supposed to be writing about it and don’t take any notes because I’m just engaged with what’s going on. 

Start with story—pull people in. 

End with Action

As I’m listening to a podcast to write an article, I always start thinking about the structure of the piece—headings, sections, main themes, bullet points, etc. 

Sharing content in a podcast is completely different than in written form which is, of course, the whole point of repurposing content. 

I need to condense a 20-60 minute podcast into a 600-1200 article—you can’t include everything! So, as I listen, I’m thinking about how to capture the main points of the podcast in a way that’s easy to understand. 

Some podcasts have very clear action points and next steps. Anything formatted in “X Ways to….” is a slam dunk to write—it’s a listicle.

Others are a bit harder to pull out the main points because they’re an interview or conversation-based. 

But no matter the format, I believe a good podcast has to end with action. 

And it’s not just to make it easier for me to write (though that’s nice). 

Action is essential to a podcast because it answers the question “so what?” Why is this information important? What should the listener do with it? How does this podcast add value to someone’s life? 

Ending with action can look any number of ways:

  • Tips and practices: What are some actionable next steps your listener can take to implement the knowledge they learned? For example, a health-focused podcast should have some ideas for how to change up your daily habits or something focused on entrepreneurship can talk about mindset practices. 
  • Questions: Podcasts can provoke new ideas, thoughts, and conversations. Leave your audience with something new to consider by offering reflection questions or ideas. 
  • Engagement: Invite your audience to engage with you and your content in some way. This could be through contests, AMA (ask me anything) episodes, or joining a live stream.
  • Resources: Offer resources for further listening, reading, and learning. Resources should also go beyond just other episodes of your podcast—try to offer options for people who learn in different ways. You can also highlight guests from your podcast and other experts to check out. 
  • Call to action: How can your audience engage further with you and your content? A CTA is a common practice for most podcasters, but some are better than others. You want to plug the right next step and way to connect with your audience. For example, if you have a particularly dense podcast with lots of information, maybe invite people to book a private coaching session to unpack it further instead of simply plugging your socials.

Ending with action answers the question “so what?” It makes the content go further by engaging your audience beyond the podcast episode itself. 

A caveat here—some podcasts are designed to be for storytelling only, with the main goal to simply entertain or inspire by sharing a story. A mini-series that covers a famous mysterious murder is not going to end with a five-point action plan. 

So this applies to podcasts that are meant to empower and equip people with knowledge and information. But I think the formula holds pretty well: bring people in with a story, and leave them with some next steps. 

I’m curious—what do you think makes a good podcast? And, what are some of your favourites? I’m always looking to add to my list! 

**This post was originally published on my LinkedIn profile on March 2, 2023

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