My mom recently revealed to me that she would get really nervous at my softball games when I was up to bat. Her anxiety would start when I was on deck, demonstrating my best practice swings.
Maybe it was because I was always ninth in the batting order, but I was self-aware enough as a 17-year-old to understand that I was not the most reliable in the queue.
By the end of that season, I’d become the most reliable… sacrificial bunter. 🙃
And my mother’s nervousness subsided.
Moral of the story: When you have a gap (or weak spot) in your podcast’s queue, don’t be afraid to switch it up. Here’s the big question we’re focusing on today:
How do I build out my podcast episode queue? To build out a podcast episode queue, use these eight methods:
- Record solo episodes
- Interview internal team members
- Record two episodes w/ a guest
- Interview current customers
- Split up longer episodes
- Repurpose a recording from a live event
- Review a top-performing blog post
- Interview competitors
Let’s take a closer look at the eight ways to build out a robust episode queue.
1. Record Solo Episodes
What’s a solo podcast episode? A solo episode is a format that involves just one speaker discussing their unique point of view on a topic. It’s similar to a monologue.
Why Record Solo Episodes?
Solo podcast episodes are one of the top ways Sweet Fish customers keep their queues full. And, some listeners even prefer them to an interview-based episode.
[READ: Did you know there are 8 main podcast episode formats? Here’s a complete guide to all of them.]
There are four main reasons why you should consider leveraging the solo podcast episode format:
- Fill up down periods with content. Even if you have a solo episode recorded but not produced, save it for a rainy day — you may need it!
- Keep things fresh. It’s easy for your show to go a little stagnant when you’re using just one episode format. Throw a solo episode in there once in a while.
- Create a stronger audience connection. Listeners are used to hearing your guests elaborate on topics. Give them a peek into your unique perspective, too.
- Easily fill in gaps. Sometimes guests cancel. It’ll be less of a scramble if you have a few solo episodes already recorded.
How to Record a Solo Episode
There are six steps to remember when you create a solo episode.
1. Come with a list of topics.
You gotta start from somewhere and a list of topics is usually the best spot. Plus, it’s kind of fun coming up with them.
Here are a few ideas for coming up with solo episode topics:
- Customer FAQs
- Previously recorded content, like TED Talks, webinars, workshops, blog posts, videos, or a popular LinkedIn post.
- The ‘People also ask’ section of Google search results pages for queries relevant to your show
- Give your hot take on another podcast’s episode
- Break down one of your previous episodes
- Recount the driving themes of recent episodes
- This gargantuan list of topics:
- Favorite books
- Favorite podcasts
- Lesson learned from a mentor
- Your favorite people to follow on LinkedIn
- Failure story
- Opposite stance on a commonly held belief
- Productivity hacks
- How you hire people
- How you fire people
- Your WHY
- Your thoughts on work/life balance
- Talk about someone you admire & why you value them
- Share a lesson learned from one of your first jobs
- Characteristics you look for when hiring someone
- Your goals for this quarter
- What are you afraid of?
- How do you recharge?
- Lessons learned from bad bosses
- Your advice to young leaders
- Answer a commonly asked question you get from customers
- Explain one of your professional pet peeves
- Your favorite TED Talks
- Ask your audience what they’re currently reading
- A goal you failed to achieve & what you learned from it
- Your morning routine
- How you handle difficult customers
- Top priorities for your role
- Your strengths vs. weaknesses
- Share something you’re currently doing to improve your leadership
- How you take vacations
- How you build new habits
- How you ended up in your industry
- A piece of advice you give frequently
- An explanation of your Myers Briggs type
- Share an element of how you were raised and how that impacts your life today
- A recent mistake you made as a leader
- Who inspires you?
- Questions you often ask other leaders
- Questions you ask during 1-on-1’s w/ your team
- What you learned from a recent event in culture
- An aspect of your story that surprises people
- The last piece of critical feedback you received
- As your audience to share one of their favorite industry conferences
- 5 lessons learned in the last year
- Ask your audience to tell you their favorite podcasts
- How to make big decisions
- How you stay focused
- How you prioritize your inbox
- How you lead meetings
- A creative solution to one of your recent problems
- Your best advice for networking
- Explain one of your strategic partnerships
- You best advice for keeping customers
- Share a story where you had to make a significant pivot
- How you handle rejection
- The best conference you’ve ever attended
- Share a long-term goal
- A recent conversation that inspired you
- The scariest risk you’ve ever taken
- A skill you’re in the process of honing and how you’re mastering it
- Share something you’ve learned from a child
- Your company’s core values
- Advice you’d give to your younger self
- Your thoughts on company culture
- A decision you made that changed the trajectory of your life/career
- Ask your audience to share questions they have about your expertise
If you’re still searching for topic ideas, check out this Mastermind session on planning episode topics your audience wants to hear. 👇
2. Create an outline.
Making an outline for your solo episode should be much less involved compared to making one for an interview.
Pretty much, all you need to do is…
- Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
- Tell them.
- Tell them what you just told them.
A solo episode outline is for your eyes only, so it doesn’t have to be anywhere near perfect. Avoid typing out a script, though. Reading off a script hardly ever sounds natural.
Simply jot down your main points and riff on ’em.
3. Begin the episode with a hook.
Grab your listeners with a catchy hook. Just like your 10th grade English teacher told you to do, use a hook to draw people in.
Your hook can be something like an interesting quote, a startling statistic, or maybe even a controversial opinion. You know what your audience likes — go with your instincts.
4. Share your unique point of view.
It’s your time to shine! Find your unique point of view about the topic you choose and elaborate on it.
Take, for instance, what Lesley did in this LinkedIn post. She found a topic she knows a lot about and gave her perspective on it. She’s authentic and helpful at the same time — people respond to that.
5. Recap the episode.
Review the main takeaways and wrap ‘er up.
Don’t forget to include your contact info and anything else you want to plug.
It might also be a good idea to ask the audience to send you topic ideas for future solo episodes. Then you’ll never run out of ideas.
6. Use the best tools.
You might already have some trusty recording tools of your own, but here are some of our favorites:
- Online Voice Recorder (for solo episodes)
- Riverside.fm (for remote interviews)
- GarageBand (for editing/mixing)
For a full list of podcasting equipment, check out this blog post.
Now, let’s get on to the second way to build out a robust podcast episode queue.
2. Interview Internal Team Members
Sure, you get expert guests on your show all the time. But you may be overlooking some… your own team members!
Here are some team members who might be interesting to interview:
- Your CEO
- Your CMO
- Pretty much any executive
- A content creator
- An SDR
- Head of HR
When you’re interviewing internal team members, there are two main ways to do it.
- The traditional 1-on-1 interview. You ask the questions and your guest answers. This format is the best if you’re not very familiar with what your teammate does.
- Co-host conversational. This format can be really fun especially with a teammate. Essentially, you’re just having a conversation with a coworker. No one is the designated host or guest.
Whichever format you choose, make sure your teammate knows. It might be awkward if they come in thinking their job is to answer your questions when you’re planning to have a more fluid conversation.
3. Record Two Episodes w/ One Guest
Got a guest who’s an expert in more than one subject? Do that thing where you have two birds and one stone.
This way, you get double the content and save the guest some time.
You may have to write up two outlines for the different interviews, however. In fact, you should so the guest understands which topics you’ll hit on in the first recording and the ones you’re saving for the second.
4. Interview Current Customers
Have a happy customer on your hands who’s also very interesting? Get them on the show!
When it comes to interviewing current customers, lots of hosts think it’s okay to talk about their company’s solution. A little bit of that is fine, but you need to consider what the listener wants to hear.
Do they want actionable advice that they can use to get better at their job? Or do they want a testimony about how great your company is?
[READ/LISTEN: Want to make an improvement to your show but you’re not sure what? Here are 5 improvements you can make to your podcast TUH-day.]
5. Split Up Longer Episodes
When you’re getting a ton of good content from a guest, you don’t want to stop them when they’re on a roll.
If an interview clocks in at upwards of an hour or more, consider splitting the interview up into two episodes. You get an extra episode to add to your queue and your guest gets more coverage.
What could be better?
6. Repurpose a Recording From a Live Event
TED Talks, keynotes, webinars, Clubhouse sessions, Facebook lives — as long as the audio isn’t 💩, you can repurpose any live recording into a podcast episode.
When you repurpose a live recording for your podcast, offer your listeners some context beforehand. Tell them where you were, who you were talking to, and the day of the event. Include those details in the episode’s intro.
The other thing to remember: Make sure the content is something your podcast audience cares about. The attendees at your webinar may have cared about the best beer brewed in the Midwest (it’s Busch Light 🍺), but do your podcast listeners?
Know your audience. Sorry if it’s a bunch of Ron Burgundy’s.
7. Review a Top-Performing Blog Post
That blog post that’s blowing up? Use it as an outline in an episode.
Think about it: The work’s already done and your audience digs it. All you have to do is record yourself discussing the H2’s.
Or, if you want to chat with somebody about the blog post, try these other episode formats:
- One-on-one interview with an outside guest who knows a lot about the topic. Send them the blog beforehand in lieu of an outline.
- One-on-one interview with the writer. Who knows more about it than them?
- Co-host conversational with the writer if you want a more laid-back feel.
8. Interview Competitors
Got a little frenemy action going on? Interviewing your competitors can make for some of the most engaging episodes out there.
You don’t have to get into a big argument or anything. But if you’re looking to fill up your podcast episode queue with captivating content, call up your industry competitor.
Hey, before you knock it, think about the benefits:
- You get an engaging episode
- They get coverage on your branded podcast
- You both learn new things about the other person and company
Just treat it as any other interview. You’re a lover, not a fighter.
Fill Up Your Episode Queue
Now you have almost an entire batting lineup worth of ways to reinforce your podcast episode queue!
Keep in mind that if something goes awry — a guest suddenly cancels, an interview turns out bad, you’ve run out of potential guests — don’t be afraid to switch it up.
It’s better to try something new than to let your listeners down. ‘Cause an RBI is better than striking out… again.
Just ask my mom.