How Do Top Podcasts Stand Out? Exploring Quality, Content, And Depth With Kelly Smith Of Podcast Launchpad

TBF Kelly Smith | Top Podcasts

 

Top podcasts stand out among the rest not just because they secured high rankings on major platforms. More importantly, it is because they always deliver value to listeners, improve their reputation, and invite relatable guests. Tracy Hazzard chats with Kelly Smith of Podcast Launchpad about the factors to consider in building a truly successful and influential show. They discuss the huge impact of host recommendations, the danger of podcast guests prioritizing their egos, and the red flags to look out for when vetting pitches. Kelly also explains how valuable it is when guests share the episodes they show up in, as well as the importance of having video content alongside your podcast audio.

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How Do Top Podcasts Stand Out? Exploring Quality, Content, And Depth With Kelly Smith Of Podcast Launchpad

I have a podcaster who’s working in the podcast industry. I always like those because we can talk about industry staff. In addition to giving you some insights into how great it is to be a podcaster, especially one who’s a serial podcaster. Kelly Smith is the Founder of PodRep.Pro, is a concierge podcast booking agency that connects guest experts with podcast hosts, so they all gain more visibility, more fans, and more sales. She’s hosted five podcasts since 2012. Geek Girl Soup and Podcast Launchpad are her new shows. Geek Girl Soup is one she’s had since 2012.

She’s the author of the number one Amazon bestseller, The Podcast Launch Playbook. She’s helped clients’ podcasts rank in the top five on Apple Podcasts in their categories in multiple countries. We are not going to talk about that though, but I’m going to bring her back on and talk about that at a different time. We don’t talk about podcast rankings because there are a lot of things that I don’t love about how the rankings work and a lot of things that I know to be false about those rankings.

While we have someone who ranks in the top five, the reality is that most of your shows are never going to do that. If they do, it’s a false position that doesn’t help you. I am going to concentrate on all the things that she does that are amazing like having 12 seasons and over 600 episodes of Geek Girl Soup, Podcast Launchpad, having over 100 episodes there, and being of great service to the podcast guesting and hosting community together. That’s what we are going to talk about, so I am excited to bring you Kelly Smith.

About Geek Girl Soup and Podcast Launchpad Host Kelly Smith

TBF Kelly Smith | Top PodcastsKelly Smith is the founder of PodRep.Pro, a concierge podcast booking agency that connects guest experts with podcast hosts so they all gain more visibility, more fans, and more sales. She has hosted five podcasts since 2012, currently Geek Girl Soup and Podcast Launchpad.

She is the author of the number 1 Amazon bestseller The Podcast Launch Playbook. She has helped clients’ podcasts rank in the top 5 on Apple Podcasts in their categories in multiple countries.

Follow Kelly Smith on Social: Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | YouTube

Kelly, I’m so glad to talk podcasting with you. You have been doing this for quite some time and have tried a bunch of different shows and you are still doing your first show. I love that. One of your first shows is Geek Girl Soup. Five podcasts later, it’s still the one you are doing.

Yes, it is. I love it. I got started with Geek Girl Soup in 2012 when podcasting wasn’t brand new, but most people had never heard of a podcast at that point.

This is an interesting show because it’s a movie review and you have got a group of you who are doing it. There’s a lot of chitchat and conversation going on. Is it a lot of preparation to do this show?

It is something that we give ourselves homework every week. We will assign ourselves at least a theme or a specific movie or TV show or a group of movies or TV shows. We try to do some other reading about the movies or shows and some other research. Sometimes we come together and we will chat about the thing, give our opinions and our reactions to it. There’s some prep, but we aren’t going and we don’t write scripts for it. It is three of us buddies and we get together, chat, share our opinions, and some background stuff.

How do you keep motivated 600 shows in?

 

TBF Kelly Smith | Top Podcasts

 

The biggest motivating factor is that we love getting together virtually and just chatting. We are friends. We love movies and TV shows. It’s fun. We started being religious about doing it weekly during the COVID lockdown. Before that, it would be several times a month, but we weren’t religious about it until March 15th, 2020, the beginning of lockdown. It saved us during that time.

It was like this is the one thing we are looking forward to every week. That became this thing that every week, every Sunday, we are recording, Here’s our homework. This is what we are going to do. It’s been keeping us going ever since. Before that, from 2012 to 2020, it was like, “We are going to do it. It’s not necessarily every Sunday. It’s not necessarily every week. We still had hundreds of episodes.” Now it’s like, “Absolutely.” We have our content calendar filled out through 2024.

It’s a good thing you know what movies are coming out. It’s so rewarding for you that you can’t stop it. Is it financially rewarding? Has it gotten to the point of monetization for all of you?

Honestly, no. We have not focused on that. We could, but it is still a hobby. It is a passion project. We love doing it. All three of us have other jobs and we focus on three other different things. We haven’t put energy into monetizing it.

It seems that you have been able to monetize podcasting because it has turned into a full-on business for you. You have Podcast Launchpad. It’s one of your other shows that you have done. You have PodRep.Pro, which is your business where you help hosts and guests together get more guesting opportunities on podcasts.

Podcasting is my profession and it is how I make money. It feels like monetizing Geek Girl Soup would take time away from my job and my focus. It’s time that I don’t necessarily have to spend. I want to keep Geek Girl Soup as this passion project. Podcast Launchpad is my business-based podcast, which I love and I’m still passionate about, but it supports my business and it is to help entrepreneurs start their podcasts and grow their podcasts as a marketing tool for their own business. I love doing it.

Podcast guesting is one of the best ways to grow your show. I used to ask the question here on the show, “How do you get great guests? Why do you guest?” They would always say the same thing. “It’s the best way for me to get more audience, grow my show, and build a community.” It was always one of those best ways. I can see it being such an integral part of the launching process and too few people take advantage of it.

It’s one of the things that I have taught in some courses and I have taught clients that when you want to grow your show, go be on other podcasts. When you are a guest on another podcast, it is essentially like the host is endorsing you. One of the number one ways or it is the number one way that listeners find new podcasts to listen to is through host recommendations and by listening to other podcasts. When you are a guest on another podcast, people are going to hear about your show that way and be like, “I’m going to go check that out,” as long as you do a good job while being a guest. It is a fabulous way to get, to reach a new audience, to reach a wider audience, and to get your show out there.

 

 

What is different between being a podcast guest and a podcast host in your view? I know you coach a lot of them on both sides. What do you see as being a big skillset difference?

Being a host is a lot harder. It takes a lot more time and a lot more planning. It is still an amazing way, as an entrepreneur you have your podcast to boost your brand, boost your reputation, share your expertise, and reach a wider audience. You can do those things as a guest, too. However, as a guest, you aren’t running your show.

You aren’t spending all those extra hours managing a show and producing a show and all of those extra things that take many additional hours to do. The result of both is similar. You are making a much greater impact as a host, especially when you are also adding guesting when you are a host, but you don’t spend all those extra hours when you are just a guest as you know since you are a host and a guest as well.

It isn’t labor intensive that you show up and you do an interview. If you have done it right at the beginning, you are doing an interview for something you are already skilled at and is already a good match for you. That’s where I think a lot of guests fall apart. I think that they guest and they think, “I will do this shotgun approach where I will send out messages every which way.” It doesn’t have the prep work that it should. That’s why you have your business PodRep.Pro because you do need to be more targeted in your approach.

On Podcast Launchpad, I reject more than 90% of the people who reach out to me about being on my show because the pitches are honestly so bad. They are either totally the wrong fit for my show. They haven’t listened to any episodes. It’s like the spray and pray method. They are reaching out to all of these podcasts and don’t do the research or a vetting process to make sure that the podcast is an ideal fit for them.

TBF Kelly Smith | Top Podcasts
Top Podcasts: Don’t reach out to all of these podcasts without doing the research or vetting process to make sure that the podcast is an ideal fit for you.

 

That is such the wrong approach. As a guest, you need to make sure of a bunch of things, but for one thing, that podcast has your ideal audience in it. That’s a huge thing. The way you reach out to the podcast host is essential. There are some red flags when guests reach out to me that will make me immediately reject the pitch. Often, I won’t even reply.

We did an episode in my other show, Feed Your Brand, where we were outing some of the bad emails we got from guests. It was like, “What not to do.”

Let me tell you the worst. This guy reached out and said, “I won’t even waste your time telling you that I have listened to your show because I haven’t.” I’m like, “What? Why even tell me that?” He was seriously asking to come on my show. Unbelievable.

The ego. That’s the real problem. Too many guests put their egos first. As you put it, the host has to do a lot of work. If their initiatives and their purpose are not considered in that process, why should they take you as a guest?

When you are a guest reaching out to a host, you are helping us out, but you are not entitled to come on our show because we are helping you out as well. It is a mutual thing. We are co-creating value for the listeners of the podcast. That is the number one goal of a podcast host. That’s a huge thing I said there. The host’s number one priority is to create value for our listeners. Keep that top of mind when you are pitching a host to co-create value for their listeners.

A podcast host’s number one priority is to create value for listeners. Share on X

I also think that having interviewed a whole lot of podcasters over the years here, assuming as a guest that that means that your content matters to my audience is a big assumption. You need to listen and know in order to pitch me properly.

They have to go back and check out your episodes, I suggest, for at least a year to scroll back and look at what episodes you have done for at least the past year. They shouldn’t pitch you on a topic that you have done within this past year because you are not going to duplicate a topic that you have done. If it’s been more than a year, then you may be open to that.

Why would you have someone on to repeat a topic that you did a couple of months ago or even one year ago? Longer than that, I’m open to that certainly. I have also been open to doing a theme. If someone can argue with me, “I see you did this six months ago, but here’s my twist on it.” They need to be attuned to what I have done and explain to me why doing it again makes sense. It’s been rare that anyone has done that for me.

Let’s talk about the promotion side of things because that’s also where it matters to the host. If you can show them that you do a great job of sharing your show and repurposing the guesting that you are doing, doing those things matters. It makes it an easier choice for me to select you as a guest. What do you train and teach in Podcast Launchpad and to your clients about resharing?

Many guests don’t share once their episode comes out. The guests are going onto shows because they want that additional exposure from being on the podcast, and then they are like, “I don’t have to share.” They are a little bit selfish about it. “I’m getting exposure by being a guest on the episode. Why do I have to share?”

You need to share because continue to think about it selfishly, that’s fine. You are saying, “This host thought enough of me to have me on their show.” Go ahead and share that with your audience. You can boast about it a little bit. We, hosts, need you to share because it helps us expand our audience, too. Please do share. When you tell the host up front, I will share it with my email list, my social media, my website, or add it to your blog. That gives us some confidence that you will be a good guest on our show.

TBF Kelly Smith | Top Podcasts
Top Podcasts: Podcast guests must share the episodes they are in to expand their audience. Become a highly sought-after guest by posting them on your blog, website, or social media accounts.

 

That’s the best pitch I ever got from someone. They showed me. They said, “Here’s an example of how I shared someone else.” It was a great Instagram story. I was like, “I don’t do as well on Instagram. That’s a priority for me. That person’s accepted on my show.” It was an easy choice.

What I do as a host is when I create my social media assets and I create reels for Instagram. They can be doubled as YouTube Shorts. I send those to my guests when the episode is ready to be published. I make it easy for them to share. We give them assets for them to share. If you are a host and you want your guests to share, give them something to share. Otherwise, the best they can do is share the link. That’s not shareable on Instagram, for example. Also, they could reshare yours as a story and that’s not as effective as for them to share originally.

TBF Kelly Smith | Top Podcasts
Top Podcasts: If you are a host and you want your guests to share, give them something to share.

 

It makes them do too much work and they don’t always do a good job of it. They don’t do the job you would want, so you might as well do it for them.

You could even write a suggested blurb for them. I know that’s extra work on your part, but you are writing blurbs for yourself anyway, so send them the suggested blurb and they can rewrite it themselves. If you have already done the work for them, it’s much easier for them to share.

I’m so glad you are out there advising people. What are some of the things that you end up repeating yourself again and again either on Podcast Launchpad or with your clients?

The biggest things are those around guesting, pitching hosts, and host-pitching guests as well. We need to boost the host’s ego and the guest’s ego when we reach out to them. Tell them what you like about them and what you appreciate about their work. Don’t go on and on, but a little bit. Often, when we are pitching either guest or host, we make it all about ourselves.

As a guest, we go on and on about, “I’m this, that, and the other. Here are my credentials. Here’s everything I have accomplished.” What the host wants to hear is, “What is your number one suggested topic? Why is it going to be relevant for their audience? What value are you going to provide for their audience? How’s it going to fit into their podcast?”

If you are pitching a guest, a similar thing, propose what topic you want them to talk about. How is it going to help that guest? How is it going to fit in? How is your audience going to help them with their ideal client and their ideal audience? How is being on your show going to benefit them? It’s all about this mutuality and benefiting the other person. Not about me, but about them.

The way that you were saying that, what it brings to the forefront is the idea that hosts and guests are out there putting out a show because they want to be seen, heard, and found, but you can’t put them in conflict with each other. They need to co-create, as you put it before, or it’s not going to work for anyone.

Going back to creating that value for the listeners. Working together, always keeping the listener in mind. They can’t work against each other, the hosts and the guests, they all want the same thing. How did you phrase it? They want to be seen, heard and found. Exactly right. That can happen together. They can both be seen, heard and found while creating that value for the listeners so that all three benefits. It’s such a beautiful process and this is something that I adore about podcasts everyone can benefit from. The listeners get so much value from the podcast. The host can be seen, heard, and found. The guest can be seen, heard, and found. Everyone has fun.

Everyone benefits from podcasts. Hosts get to be seen, guests get to be heard, and listeners get so much value. Share on X

I am going to do something I have never done on my show before. For those of you long-time readers, I have never done a double show. I’m going to talk about Podcast Launchpad first here, but Kelly has done in Podcast Launchpad a deep dive and nitty-gritty subject matter focus. It’s those topics that we are so powerfully drawn to because we need an answer. That’s what’s going to draw you into our community. That’s what’s going to draw you into our show. It’s what’s going to make you binge on Podcast Launchpad. That is my question for you. How do you find those great topics? How do you do that? How do you get into those nitty-gritty details for people?

When I create Podcast Launchpad, each of the episodes and that too, I have my content calendar that is out through the end of 2024 and I change them up. I have other ideas. I put myself in the place of a beginning podcaster or come up with questions for myself right now. I ask myself these questions, I listen to my clients, and I listen to other podcasters out there. Each episode is based on a question. I have done that when I have written books and when I come up with blog posts. It’s all based on what questions new podcasters or more experienced podcasters have. That’s it. I like thinking in terms of questions.

You are already thinking about how can I be in service because you are doing that question-and-answer model as well. That’s wonderful. I’m glad to hear you are already booking out because I don’t want you to stop your show if I’m going to binge-listen on it. I want to know you are going to be there.

Yes, I will, for years.

This show and Geek Girl Soup. I’m going to say a review show or a show that’s in conversation about stuff that’s going on can be very difficult to have a binge factor or to become bingeable because it can outdate quickly.

Yes, it can.

The types of shows, movies you are choosing, and your content choices are smart because they are ones that I’m going to come back on. I might not find out about a particular movie until years after it launched, but you still go back and talk about it and review it. The fact that our world is so streaming-oriented, which is all mixed up and it doesn’t matter when it originally aired and came out into theaters has helped you. It’s also the approach that you are taking. You are not talking about too much information that’s set in time. It’s talking about how you felt about it, what it made you think about how it made you react and that’s timeless.

Thank you. We don’t just talk about current movies and shows. We will also go back and pull out things that came out decades ago. That’s something that keeps it fun for us. It can be sentimental, nostalgic, and very new as well.

You got your geek girl edge, which is nice. It was a big catalog, so I go back and listen to a few, and come back into it. You did Back to the Future, it’s on its anniversary anyway, so it was in the news about that, but that’s got that geek girl edge to it and you don’t lose that throughout the show. That’s important. It’s too easy to end up trendy in some of those shows and you are like, “We still a little bit like the sci-fi. We still like the time travel stories.” We like those.

That was a fun one. We can talk about Back to the Future forever.

It’s because you have probably seen it many times.

Yes, that we have.

It wouldn’t be an episode talking about the podcasting industry in general if we weren’t talking about the future. Let’s go to the future, not Back to the Future. Let’s go to the real future. What’s next? What do you see going on in podcasting? What do you see as something you want to tap into and do for yourself?

Video. I don’t know if it’s most podcasters. I think about half. Half of the podcasters are doing videos now. A little bit more than half of listeners want video for their podcasts now. They say that they understand the episodes better when they can watch videos at the same time. I anticipate more podcasters to be doing videos.

TBF Kelly Smith | Top Podcasts
Top Podcasts: Half of the podcasters are now doing videos because more listeners say that they understand the episodes better if they can watch them at the same time.

 

The one thing that’s wonderful about it is that when you have your camera on, then it’s easy to pull video clips out to share on social media and people love video clips more than a single static image to share on social media. That makes that easy. Even if you end up not sharing the whole episode on YouTube, just to have it for those clips is nice.

I’m going to step in there and say, all of you readers, you also have Feed Your Brand. I referred to this episode before, but we taught you all how to convert your podcast on YouTube to a YouTube podcast playlist. Do not underestimate that. They require it to be your full-length episode, not your shorts. If you are going to take advantage of that, make sure you do that.

We have been doing videos a lot longer than most people, not just us personally, but on our platform on Podetize. We have been doing that, so we are probably close to about 65% of our client base and our user base doing video as well. Year over year grew from 50% to 65%. That 15% boost in that is significant. I agree with you. I think that that’s the way to go, but what we are not seeing is a play-through on the video. They have the same attention span on video that there is in the podcast listening space. It does not work like that.

That makes sense because people spend seconds scanning a blog or online articles. They fast forward through videos or stop because they are sitting looking at a screen and they lose attention. They will open their email or a text. With just the pure audio of a podcast, 80% of listeners will finish the entire episode once they hit play. It’s amazing because yes, they can multitask, but they can keep listening while they are driving. Listening on the commute is still the number one way that people listen to a podcast.

Many podcasts that we see, especially the ones towards the more affluent users that listeners in general watch are growing in their percentage of listens. The tablet is way down. The computer is way down, but the phone and watch are high. The ones that have high watch have high listen-through rates. I think that you are still right there.

Listening on the computer or watching by video, YouTube gets found pretty well since Google owns YouTube. The listen-through rate, like you are saying, it’s too easy to be distracted, so you still have your audio.

You have to do both. Please do both. Don’t give up podcasting for video. That’s the one thing that I think is a big mistake. We have seen people who did that and then came back.

I will bet. You are right, set it up as a podcast for the long ones only on YouTube, but do not give up the audio. People want the audio.

TBF Kelly Smith | Top Podcasts
Top Podcasts: You can set up the long ones as a podcast on YouTube, but do not give up the audio. People want the audio.

 

What’s new for your business? What’s the future for PodRep.Pro and Podcast Launchpad?

Keeping Podcast Launchpad going for sure. It is only a few years old, but as of this episode, I have 112 episodes and it’s going to keep going. There’s so much to talk about with podcasting. It’s fabulous. PodRep.Pro is new. I was doing podcast consulting and there’s so much free information out there, including my podcast on starting a podcast and growing your podcast and all of that. I found a need for helping people get booked on podcasts and helping hosts book guests.

There are fabulous matchmaking services to do that, but it still requires extra effort to do the pitch. There are people who do want to concierge service with that so all you do essentially is show up for the interview. That’s what we do at PodRep.Pro. We take care of everything and you just show up for the interview.

It’s so important. If you need help with all the prep side of things. If you are a very busy CEO or you have got a lot going on, you can’t do all of that, but you want to know somebody who did that and didn’t do the spray and pray method as you put it before. I have seen people hire companies that think that they are doing a service and that’s all that they do. It’s not helpful.

I still have agencies reach out to me trying to pitch guests to me, and they have used spray and pray. They are pitching guests who are not at all a good fit or nowhere near the right fit.

I used a concierge service way back, probably when you were starting your first podcast, probably around 2012. It was quite that long ago. Maybe 2012 or 2013, sometime around there. 12 guest spots that I did $120,000 in business within 6 months and $1 million if I calculated it was referrals and other sales that came from that a year later. Just because it was so targeted and because it was so professional, it made a huge difference.

When you are very precisely targeted, you get ideal-for-you podcasts. As a host, you get ideal-for-you guests on there, then it can work well.

Kelly Smith, thank you so much for bringing Geek Girl Soup and Podcast Launchpad to the world. We appreciate you in the podcast industry.

Thank you so much. It was wonderful to be on your show. I appreciate everything you do and it was lovely to be here.

I love it when someone has found such success in podcasting that they have decided to turn that into a business. When that business is taking off and doing so well and helping others, I love to get their opinion. I get their view on how it is because I started podcasting and started our podcasting business so long ago. It seems like so much has changed.

It’s one of the reasons I started a new podcast every year because I need to make sure that it’s keeping up with how things are moving. The things that Kelly is saying are what’s going on in the industry. There’s a lot of shotgun approach, thanks to AI, thanks to virtual assistants, and all the process that makes it accessible and easy for you to phone it in.

The reality is that having a human touch, having that one-on-one, putting a concierge in place, making sure that you are doing the prep work on your show for you. Deciding on a movie for Geek Girl Soup that is going to make sense or a TV show that makes sense to their group when they talk about, it means that they can stay engaged, they can stay passionate about it. It’s a much more sustainable approach to podcasting. That’s why I brought Kelly on.

I liked it when she said, “You can check in the past episodes in the past year and not do any duplicates.” I don’t know if I agree with that. If every show was about SEO, the last thing you want to do is pitch them to an SEO expert. There are probably people that way outrank you on there. However, if you have got something new and a great new angle and it’s a popular subject, popular enough for me to repeat it, then you should come on my show. By that theory, I wouldn’t have anyone but Alex Sanfilippo on this show because why would I have anyone but PodMatch when he’s been doing it so long and he’s such an expert in guesting and all of those things? Why would I have Kelly Smith on the show?

It’s okay for there to be people in the past who have done this as long as you truly bring something new and/or bring higher authority. One of those things. I do think if you are going to think about theming and grouping pieces of information, let’s say I wanted to go on shows and talk about all the amazing things we are doing to support video podcasts. That’s what I wanted to do and I wanted to do that as the CEO of Podetize.

What if I brought on and brought with me 2 or 3 other guests? We could recommend a whole-themed month on YouTube podcasts. I could bring in Fran Asaro, my favorite senior tuber. She’s amazing. She’s thrived anyway. She’s the only person I bring in to advise my clients. Why not bring her along with me and pitch both of us to a host at the same time? There’s power in that.

Those are some great things that can come when you have concierge service and when you have someone who’s doing the pitching. You can be creative and think of things like this to get you in and do something original that hasn’t been done. That’s a much more co-creation and collaborative approach.

That’s what Kelly’s saying. She’s saying, “When you think about that show, when you think about that host and that guest and them co-creating together, you are going to come up with better solutions, better ideas, and better ways to pitch. That’s not going to come when you spray and pray and you send out anything to anyone anywhere. Not going to work.”

I’m so glad we could have Kelly on. I’m glad you got a sense of Geek Girl Soup and Podcast Launchpad. Thinking about how you are going to grow your show. Remember, one of the number one ways to do that is through podcast guesting. Whether it’s bringing great guests who bring authority value to your show and share value to your show or going on another show and guesting there.

Remember, I always love a podcast swap. It’s how Kelly and I met. I offered to have her on my show. She hopefully will offer to have me on her show. That type of thing goes on. When we have a show and we offer someone to come on our show, it’s more likely we are going to get guest spots. I think I probably guest at least four times a month one for every guest that I have here. That’s a successful strategy and one great reason for you not to just guest on other people’s podcasts, but also have a show yourself. Thanks everyone for reading. I’m so glad I could bring you another bingeable podcaster and I will be back next episode with yet another one.

 

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Tracy Hazzard

Tracy Hazzard is a former Authority Magazine and Inc. Magazine Columnist on disruptive innovation, and host of 5 top-ranked podcasts including: The Binge Factor and Feed Your Brand–one of CIO’s Top 26 Entrepreneur Podcasts. She is the co-founder of Podetize, the largest podcast post-production company in the U.S. As a content, product, and influence strategist for networks, corporations, marketing agencies, entrepreneurs, publications, speakers, authors & experts, Tracy influences and casts branded content with $2 Billion worth of innovation around the world. Her marketing methods and AI-integrated platform, provides businesses of all sizes a system to spread their authentic voices from video to podcast to blog, growing an engaged audience and growing valuable digital authority.
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