As part of my series of interviews about “5 things you need to know to create a very successful podcast”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Caleb Silver.

Caleb is an award-winning business journalist and the Editor-in-Chief of Investopedia. He previously worked as the Director of Business News at CNN, the Executive Producer of CNN Money, and was a senior producer on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.

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Can you tell us a bit of your “personal backstory? What is your background and what eventually brought you to this particular career path?

I’ve been a business journalist for 25 years with a few breaks as a documentary and live event producer. It’s always been about the storytelling for me — and I discovered that there are so many great stories around money, companies, executives and investors. I began my career as a wildlife documentary producer in New Mexico, but then I caught the journalism bug and moved to New York City to attend NYU’s Carter Institute for Journalism. I produced human rights documentaries following grad school, but was eventually hired by Bloomberg TV as a producer. I was hooked, and spent 8 years at Bloomberg as the internet bubble expanded and popped.

From Bloomberg, I went to CNN to run business news, and I had the privilege of working with great journalists like Ali Velshi, Christine Romans and Wolf Blitzer, among others. I spent ten years at CNN and CNNMoney, and eventually became the Director of Business News across the network. In 2014, I left to form a new production company. Then in 2016, I learned that Investopedia was seeking an Editor in Chief and VP of Content. I learned so much from Investopedia throughout my career, so I jumped at the chance to join the site and its parent company IAC. It’s been a great five years, and we are continuing to grow.

Can you share a story about the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you started podcasting?

Investopedia is a well-known brand and website around the world, with 23 million monthly visitors. I’m not nearly as well known, but attaching my name to the site and the Investopedia Express podcast has produced a level of notoriety for me that I was not expecting. I’ve heard from listeners all over the world, in Brazil, Indonesia, India and Australia, since we launched the podcast three months ago, and they are all smart and astute listeners who challenge me and give me great feedback.

Can you share a story about the biggest or funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaways you learned from that?

I recently interviewed Mohamed El-Erian, a world-renowned economist and best-selling author. His dog Sally was in the room, and she apparently rejected the premise of my question and started barking as soon as I asked it. Mohamed apologized, but we both had a good laugh, and kept Sally in the show.

How long have you been podcasting and how many shows have you aired?

The Investopedia Express is on its 15th episode, and we’re in our fourth month of podcasting.

What are the main takeaways, lessons or messages that you want your listeners to walk away with after listening to your show?

I want them to feel smarter, empowered and more aware as market participants to face the week ahead. We don’t pick stocks or play stock market roulette — we are all about making individual investors smarter so they can make the right decisions for themselves.

In your opinion what makes your podcast binge-listenable? What do you think makes your podcast unique from the others in your category? What do you think is special about you as a host, your guests, or your content?

A good host is everything, and I have a long way to go. A unique theme, episode blocks that break up the show, and good pacing and music are also essential. The key is to leave people with a sense of having learned something and having enjoyed the process. Creating that spark with each episode is a lot harder than you’d think, but it’s what keeps listeners coming back for more.

What would you recommend to others about how to maintain discipline and consistency? What would you recommend to others about how to avoid burnout?

Once your latest episode is out on the air, give yourself an audio break. Don’t listen to it and critique yourself right away — there will be time for that. Don’t listen to other podcasts for a bit, too — take that break, recharge your batteries, and attack it anew a little later in the day.

What resources do you get your inspiration for materials from?

I have about ten investing and business podcasts that I listen to, in addition to a few sports and political podcasts. I love the hosts and I listen to them to see how I can improve my delivery. I also listen to a lot of freestyle rap, and I’m inspired by those wordsmiths and their flow. I’d like to work that into my show at some point.

Is there someone in the podcasting world who you think is a great model for how to run a really fantastic podcast?

I love Planet Money and the way the hosts build the show. They always incorporate great storytelling into their episodes, so you feel like you are reading a great piece of nonfiction that makes you smarter about money.

What are the ingredients that make that podcast so successful? If you could break that down into a blueprint, what would that blueprint look like?

Great host, unique theme, pacing, and great audio production.

You are a very successful podcaster yourself. Can you share with our readers the five things you need to know to create an extremely successful podcast?

1 — Have a game-plan and a theme for each episode — give listeners a clear reason to tune in.

2 — Use good equipment — Listeners are pretty discerning and it’s not expensive or difficult to get geared up like a pro.

3 — Book interesting guests that have followings — they will amplify your promotion.

4 — Don’t be afraid to pivot or switch gears if your episode starts crumbling like a sand castle.

5 — Be bold! Listeners want to hear someone at the top of their game.

Check out the full interview in Tracy Hazzard’s Authority Magazine Article about Caleb Silver!

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Podcast Expert, Caleb Silver of The Investopedia Express shares the best ways to:

1) Book Great Guests. Follow great guests on social media, know what they’re writing or talking about, and customize your pitch so that they understand why you want them on your show. In the early days, it’s good to book guests with large social followings so they can share the episode and help you gain listeners.

One of my first guests on The Investopedia Express podcast was MSNBC’s Ali Velshi, a good friend and former colleague who helped set the tone of where we wanted the podcast to go, not to mention help get the word out.

2) Increase Listeners. When you first launch your podcast, building a loyal following takes time. The number one hurdle is awareness, since podcast discovery is still a murky process, so this is the time to really lean into self promotion.

Post links to your podcast across all your social media accounts, and make sure you clearly identify what your show is about, what value it adds to your listeners’ lives and how it’s unique compared to your competitors. When we launched the Express, we understood it would take time to build an audience, even with the help of a major brand like Investopedia.

3) Produce Like A Pro. You’ll need to get in the habit of producing your podcast the same way a major media outlet does. Research topics in advance, identify high-profile guests, write out talking points, intros, outros- the whole package. When you sound confident, professional and well-informed, your audience will be more inclined to keep coming back. With my background in broadcast journalism, I approached the podcast just like a TV segment. Pre-production saves a lot of headaches and gives your listeners a much more polished product than trying to wing it on air.

4) Encourage Engagement. Since podcasts aren’t naturally a visual medium, try to find ways to grab people’s eye. Cutting short clips from interesting segments and turning them into video clips is a great way to boost engagement. You’ll want to post announcements for each new episode on all your social channels, and make sure you tag your guests, who will also likely help promote the show. If possible, host listener contests or giveaways to get your followers subscribing to the show and interacting with your content. Each week, we offer our listeners a chance to win a pair of Investopedia socks and they’ve become a fan favorite.

5) Monetize Your Show. Get sponsors for the show as a whole, or specific episodes or segments, or you can use the podcast to sell products through which you earn a commission. Which strategy you choose depends on the size of your audience, their willingness to pay for the material your podcast provides, what companies would be interested in sponsoring your podcasts, and which products your listeners would be likely to take your recommendations on. It’s tempting to try to max out advertising if you think it can lead to revenue, but remember how disruptive ads can feel to a listening experience — you don’t want to drive people away. Be intentional, and only offer ads that you think could genuinely benefit your listeners.

What makes your podcast binge-listenable? What do you think makes your podcast unique from the others in your category? What do you think is special about you as a host, your guests, or the content itself? 

Check out the full interview in Tracy Hazzard’s Authority Magazine Article about Caleb Silver!