As podcasters, we have to stand out from all the noise in the digital world. One great way to do that is by crafting enticing podcast descriptions to spark the interest of our listeners. Join podcasting and monetization marketing experts Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard, where they talk about creating story-based podcast descriptions so we can make our audience anticipate and check our content out. They emphasize the listeners as our heroes and the importance of assigning them to calls of action. Listen to this episode as Tom and Tracy share deeper insights on being the best guides we could be by providing solutions to our subscribers, creating success and contributing to their meaningful lives.

Watch the episode here

Listen to the podcast here


Story Based Podcast Descriptions That Make Your Listener The Hero

We’re going to talk about story-based podcasts descriptions.

We’re talking about specifically making the reader the hero. When we think about story-based storytelling, we always think, “There’s a hero in our story, there are going to be trials and tribulations, a call to adventure, a call to action.” All those things are going to occur. We always think about it writing it in the third person like it’s about someone else. A lot of times, we think there’s always about us. We’re the hero to our clients and readers. That is not the case. We’re the Yoda, the guide, the guru. Sometimes we’re a guide who’s just a few steps in front of the people behind us. We’re not necessarily this amazing expert guide.

That’s our role in the process as a podcaster. We’re a guide in the podcasting world. We’re the guide in the story. When we start to frame that, then who’s the hero? The hero is our reader, subscriber, potential clients. We want them to follow the journey. We want this to be their story. It’s really about them at the end of the day. This is something you and I talk about all the time, whether we’re designing cover art descriptions for our show or our episodes, we’re always working on focusing on that reader.

You really want the reader to feel when they read your description, when they see most aspects of your podcast listing, your podcast identity, that this is for them. You want them to feel like, “That sounds like me, it’s what I need. That’s the journey that I wish that I was already on.” They feel like by listening, they’re going to get support.

Whenever we start a story, I want you to think about this like mini-episodes, mini-stories, mini-adventures. You have an overarching big one that is the adventure of becoming my clients and I’m going to take you to the big success point. I’ve got this process that I wanted but everything we want to look at is also in micro. You can apply these ideas that going to talk about to a landing page. You can do them for an article. I follow this model all the time when I’m writing an article. You can do it when you structure your episodes write the description for what your episode was about write your show description, which is your overall-arching 4,000-character description which, “This is the model that I teach our team to write from what you say to us.” If you’ve ever watched one of our episodes when we talk about creating a description, we have you record and answer multiple different questions. The first section we always talk about is tells us about the problems, the issues, the aspirations of the reader. We make you start there because every good story starts there. The hero has a problem and a need.

They want to do something, to become something, to be something. The hero is in a quandary. We’re always starting at that place. We make you start there when we ask you to talk your way through the description. I’m going to talk a little bit about how we write it later but we take it from there, and then our team, when we write it, structure it in a format. I always write what I called a leading paragraph, which you might want to think about as your podcast episode description or the first paragraph of your show description. A leading paragraph covers a little bit more of teasing the journey.

We’re teasing that hero’s path. We’re going to start though, always with the call to action of the want, the need. What is it you want to accomplish? What is it you want to get done? Who do you want to become? Where is that want and need coming from? That’s where we’re always going to start. The hero has the problem, and they meet the guide. They meet us, the host of the show. I’m going to talk a little bit about you. We’re going to mention something about us. If we’re doing this in a show description or the leading paragraph, it’s a small part, a phrase. It’s not your resume.

Our listeners have needs and desires that we need to address as podcasters. Click To Tweet

It’s not your whole bio. It’s a glimpse, enough to give the listener an idea that you’re a credible messenger.

If you’re doing an episode description, that’s your guest. This is the point where you bring in your guests. Where you’re talking about what aspect of that journey are they going to talk about. What are they an expert in, what are they an example of, why are they someone that’s five steps in front of me of where I want to go on my journey even if they’re not the expert? You’re still sitting back as the host of the main experts. Thinking about this being a health journey, for instance, that maybe your podcast is about the journey to good health. If your podcast is about this, obviously I’m in want and need as a listener of good health. You, as the host of the show, are providing me good stories, good people, good products, deep, detailed information that’s going to help me achieve my goal of good health and achieve the summit that I want to climb.

There might be some specialists along the way you’re introducing us to. You want to make sure to highlight why they’re special. Why are they a specific guide on something? It’s okay to bring in a supplementary expert, that’s our okay thing but we want to highlight that. That’s our, “Who’s our helper along the way.” Who’s our guide, who’s our helper, who’s going to give us that? You are providing this overarching plan and idea of the path to success, to the summit, to whatever it is that they want to achieve the solution to the problem. You’re not giving them the solution, you’re giving them the path. That’s careful. When we’re a guide and a coach, we don’t give them the answers. They need to discover the answers for themselves. This is the hero’s journey. If you don’t discover the answer for yourself, you’re not going to learn it. Dorothy doesn’t get to go home by clicking her heels at the beginning of the show. She had to discover it for herself.

That’s a good 1939 reference from the podcasting. We’ll take it.

We can all be Luke, we might be Dorothy. That’s what we’re going to go. Remember, that all along the way, as we’re on our path, there’s going to be trials, tribulations, tests, things that define where we’re going, the choices that we get to make along the way. I want to think of them as tests but also because there are failures, pitfalls, things that go wrong.

Usually, in the hero’s journey, there’s always a crash at some point, which makes the hero’s journey more meaningful when somebody has that crash and they overcome that, they succeed despite that.

The hero has a problem, we’ve met you the guide, you’re giving them a plan, you’ve also called them to action. Don’t forget that you got to make them start on the journey. By reading you’re getting them to start on the journey. We’re inviting them to do that, that’s why you can use this on a landing page because there’s where your call to action is. That’s where your first small micro-actions. All I got to do is get them to listen. We’re doing our micro action at the stage. It then helps our guides along the way providing those crashes might happen and that’s where the great stories come in. We want to tell them about people who crashed but our job is to make them feel that working with us, being with us, reading our podcast, we’re going to help them avoid the dumb ones. We used to call them the rookie errors. We’re going to help you avoid the rookie errors along the way, avoid these things that should be obvious but they’re not.

FYB 108 | Story Based Podcast Descriptions

Story Based Podcast Descriptions: Usually, in the hero’s journey, there’s always a crash at some point, which makes it more meaningful, especially when they succeed despite that.

We’re going to make that happen for you by bringing you great people, products, concepts, right topics along the way. That’s our job as the guide. Some of those might be other helpers, other people who can give you guidance and help, that can help you with little bits and pieces along the way so that you can highlight what it looks like to crash without having them crash. We don’t want our readers to crash, we want them to keep going. We’re going to help them along the way. Remember, you’re also there to provide warnings. I was talking about this earlier. Sometimes telling people what not to do, what they should be aware of, what the pitfalls are, are almost more powerful than what they should do.

That’s incredibly valuable because people don’t know what they don’t know. A lot of times, they don’t know it until they hear what it is you’re sharing with them that they didn’t know. They’re like, “I didn’t know that. That’ll save me a lot of pain.”

This is an easy way for you to bring in success without having them take action because they heard something that they now won’t do, they believe they got something from you, they got a nugget. They achieved some success working through this journey with you, but they didn’t have to take action to lose 5 pounds. They avoided something that could have cost them more. That’s actually an easy way to create success for your audience and build that up. Keep in mind that some of these warnings are great, they’re also great to highlight not what it is but then I’m going to warn you about that. I do a lot of articles titled, “The best and the worst.”

Those are always so popular.

Five dos and two don’ts, and it’s the don’ts that people comment on right over time. Keeping that in mind that you’re going to tease that those things are in your episode is going to be a part of your show, that’s going to help you build that anticipation and interest of people who want to come forward and check it out. Those are all different things, then we got to give them some tasks. We got to assign them some things that they have to do in an adventure. It wouldn’t be an adventure if it didn’t make you do something. You’ve got to experience something, you’ve got to try that. In that, your assignments to them are mini calls to action, various things that they need to take action to do.

These are not come buy from me calls to action, let me be very clear about that. This is calling them to take action on this thing that they believe they need, want, need to become, the way they want to transform, and transformation can’t happen without action. You’ve got to inspire them to do something active for themselves of which they can achieve some amount of success. This is where I love the little nuggets that we leave. Remember, some of them can be don’ts but some of them can be dues. By them taking action, now they become faster believers in you as their guide because you help them achieve micro success along the way. Navigating them to that small success is a way to get them off the podcast eventually.

That’s a way to get them to subscribe to your channel, to get them to go from the subscription, going into your website, downloading something you’re providing for them. Maybe that’s a further guide so you want them and you’re inviting them to take this challenge or action. You’re going to download that with more detail on what it entails. You’re going to give them that next step. Minor things, small things but the things that create great success. Merrill Chandler’s Get Fundable podcast is a great example of that. Great show. Tell everybody some of the kinds of micro things that Merrill will talk about on the show. When you try them, you go, “That was a great success.”

There’s a summit you want to climb, and in achieving that, you experience a sense of fulfilment. Click To Tweet

Merrill’s topic is large and the overall subject matter he talks about on getting fundable and making your business fundable. This is all about knowing the rules of the game in order to be able to take certain actions, exhibit certain behaviors that are going to put you and your business in the right position to be fundable knowing it going in. He’ll give you an example. First of all, he’ll share with you that 80% of the decision points for your business to be granted credit, loan, line of credit, business credit card, are actually things that are in your personal credit history, whether you’re personally guaranteeing something or not.

Small little things where he can tell you that paying on your exact due date, not paying early makes a tremendous difference in performance and your score. Something so simple of, you think, “I’m doing the right thing. I’m paying five days early. I’m making sure that check gets in.” Instead, if you register on their website and pay exactly on the due date, even though you could pay five days early, you’re going to get bonus points for it essentially in your credit score. At the end of the day, that can make a tremendous amount of difference very quickly in your credit score.

The thing is the reason these things make a difference is because the algorithm for the automatic underwriting software that everybody is being evaluated by when you apply for credit these days has certain criteria. Many data points of criteria that you don’t know what they are. He’ll peel back the curtain a little bit, show you some specific things you can do to take action but it’s just a nugget. It shows the example of, “I didn’t know if I do that, that would make a big difference.”

He provided you a context and a little nugget. You do it, you achieve success and you want to come back for more because you realized he’s truly the guide and the expert and I am a novice in this. I am subject to hundreds of pitfalls, of failure points. There’s a lot of conflicts here, but there’s also a lot at stake because my fundability is my home, my future. This is where doing those things and providing those micro-actions that can achieve success are extremely important along the way to build them in. We so often look at calls to action on our show has come to my website and not go and do something positive to achieve your goal here for our overall auction. Remember to call them to action and adventure.

You can actually do both. Call them to action, give them something they can do that will make a difference. At the same time, invite them to go to your website to get a little checklist of some of these things like, “You remember what you’re supposed to do or maybe you don’t have to write it down as you’re listening. You can go get to a reference there and get what you need.”

You’ll say, “I have these details. I talked about them on the show but I have them written down for you in the blog post for this episode.” If you remember, we always said that here on the show that you should send people to the blog post for this episode because it’s the easiest way to do that. You’re not inviting them to subscribe to anything, they don’t feel like they’re email downloading. They’re going to the place where they can get to the fastest path to the details and achieve success. When they achieve success, they’re coming back to you. Don’t think this is lost. Plus, there are a million ways in one to track anyone who comes to your website anyway. You do have them no matter what happens. We get too caught up in this call-to-action salesy model forgetting that we do have to also nurture them to get them to be successful and want this for themselves.

Sometimes to get them out of their own way. The great thing about most of our topics is we don’t realize how many pitfalls there are, how many opportunities for that crash there is. That’s where stories from our guests can help eliminate that. Merrill’s podcast’ Get Fundable is a great example because every guest has a different story of a crash. They went through a pitfall, they experienced, and there’s a lesson there in how to prevent yourself from falling into that same trap.

FYB 108 | Story Based Podcast Descriptions

Story Based Podcast Descriptions: When you achieve success in the problem or area you need to solve by listening to the podcast, you want to come back for more because you realize that the podcaster is truly the guide and the expert.

Let’s recap again to make sure we’re clear on the hero’s journey and we’re also crystal clear that our readers and subscribers, as podcasters are our heroes in that process. They have a want, need, desire, they want to go from here to there. They want some transformation, that’s the key or they wouldn’t pick your show, to begin with. They have something in mind that’s why they’ve sought you out. You are calling them to the path, the adventure of what’s going to happen here. You’re doing that but they want it to begin with. You’re their guide, Yoda, Sherpa, whatever it might be. You’re their guide on the path. You’re going to give them a plan and a path but you’re not giving them all the details and you’re not giving it to them at once, you’re overwhelming them if you do. It’s going to come over time over the show. They’re starting where they are but you know what that destination looks like, defining what that success is.

Along the way, there’s a bunch of tests conflict, that’s what we call it when we read this. Conflict failures, pitfalls, things that are going to happen to us, things that are going to be in our way, barriers, obstacles, that we have to overcome, that’s the whole content piece there. There are going to be other helpers, guests, guides, people along the way that you’re going to case studies. Anything along that way, success stories are going to come as well because not only do we have conflict, but we also need to see people who’ve tried this path before and who made it. At the end of the day, we want to get the ring. In Lord of the Rings, we want to achieve the goal. We want to get our Lightsaber. Whatever it is that you want to get that is putting you at that level of Jedi or an expert of where I came from. That’s the transformation. I’ve transformed, that’s the solution. That’s what you can provide them as a faster path to do that.

You can provide them hands-on guidance along the way. This is why working with you is so great. That transformation is still possible if they are taking action and listening. If they’re creating the model, they can create this for themselves over time. It would be incredibly difficult. It’s because you’re also revealing little bits and pieces all the time, possibly not in the right order because that’s not how we typically podcast here. It would be incredibly hard for them to do this. This is not a course. Your podcast is not that. It’s little glimpses into that part of the hero’s journey.

When we create that, we navigate them to small successes along the way, navigating them to that big transformation in the end so that they know that they’re with the right guide and path. Whether or not they can afford you is not the important part, because if they believe that you are the guide, they will tell people who can afford you about you as well because you help them with that small success along the way. That’s our hero’s journey where we’re involving the listener. Do you have anything you want to add to that?

You’re the expert here as the writer in our duo out here and have more experience with the hero’s journey but I certainly know, believe and experience it all the time, not only as a podcaster. Even in a part of my function as our company in a sales capacity, when I speak with a customer, I take them through a bit of a hero’s journey as we talk about. What it is that they need support with to make their podcasts more effective. This is only one aspect of it.

When we build strategies, we’re building based on this model as well as writing articles. Let’s talk a little bit about what some of those things look like. When we write a description for a show, we take that pain point, aspiration, need and want. We put it first and foremost into the first line of the opening paragraph. We then put who you are, why you’re the guide, the expert, and we put on some of the things that they might get tested on. In other words, some of the problems, issues, dos, and don’ts that are going to happen along the way. We’re highlighting them, not in detail, but highlighting the concept of them.

As my coach, Bill Stierle would say, “We’re not giving them the full meal, we’re giving them an appetizer.” We’re just giving them a little taste.

You're going to give listeners and subscribers a plan and a path, but you're not giving them all the details at once. Click To Tweet

In this case, in our opening paragraph, we’re only giving them the name of the appetizer, which sounds enticing but it’s not giving much more than that. We’re going to do an immediate call to adventure. I’m going to say adventure because your story, your whole podcast should be edutaining. We want it to be a call to adventure, not a call to action. We’re going to have a call to adventure right at that moment, which is, “Hit subscribe and join the show. Go check it out.” Most people don’t go beyond the first paragraph, that’s why it’s written that way. Now, we’re going to break it down into three paragraphs. There are all those separate things, more detailed out. More discussion of the why, the want, the need, why you want this and what that path is going to be. More along, why I tried that path, my guests, or my expert, whatever it is, why that path is so critical that you understand it and you’ll highlight it. Even if I’m not the expert but I’m the curiosity guide. You can be a curiosity host.

When we started out with 3D printing in our show, we were not the technical experts on 3D printing. We were experts in product design and development and wanted to use 3D printing as a tool and had already had a lot of experience trying to apply decades of design experience to it. That’s the expertise that we brought into that model. We brought our viewpoint, perspective, expertise and added that to the journey of learning about something.

In that case, your example really holds true. We were the Sherpa in that. We were leading people down a path. Even though we weren’t the expert, we learned over 600 plus episodes and became experts in many aspects of it.

Remember, every Sherpa has to start with our first route. You’re going on that guide. That’s where that section comes in, then we talk more about the struggles that people have. The test, the things that they’re going to come up against, that’s people want to know that those things are covered here. They don’t want to know that you’re glossing this stuff over with a bunch of interviews that hit the surface. They want to know you’re going to deep dive into the topics. We want to reference that there. Our last paragraph has always yet another call to adventure of, “Join the show. This is why you should be so excited. Here’s what you’re going to get by listening the show.” Teasing them for that transformation, elixir, result that they’re going to get by listening to the show over time. We need to do that again. That’s when we’re writing a full description.

When I write an article, it’s very similar. I write my leading paragraph last. I usually write the rest of the article first and all the pain problems, bullet points because everybody likes listicles, dos, and don’ts about what you should do and some why’s in there, then a summary that is inviting them to try it for themselves. Some summary of how like, “How are you going to apply this. Think this through, take this nugget away, figure this out for yourself.” My articles are a little more, you’re just hitting that top level. There’s no actual actionable result because I’m not selling through an article but I am inviting them to try something. Try the perspective I’ve provided you, the net result of almost all of them.

I’ll go back and I’ll write that teasing paragraph at the beginning where I’m incorporating little bits and pieces in a trailer teaser style that gets you excited to read more. That’s the point. Same thing with our episode descriptions. They should be like that model. We have that teaser paragraph that has got the little bits of highlights of the journey along the way of what they’re going to get, but not giving them the farm. The worst episode descriptions to me are the ones that go, “It’s so-and-so is going to talk on success on how they did this exactly.” They say what it is. That’s giving it away.

I don’t like the blog posts, the old school show notes that people create that gives everybody all the key points, all the key highlights and takeaways right at the top that occur within the episode because somebody who would prefer not to spend all that time listening goes and looks at all those points. “Great. I got what I need from it. I don’t have to listen it.” The lesson will be much more effective if they do listen. You want to build anticipation, which builds up dopamine in their brain and get some like, “I got to read this.” Make them read to get the goods.

FYB 108 | Story Based Podcast Descriptions

Story Based Podcast Descriptions: Sometimes, we don’t realize how many pitfalls there really are in our lives and how many opportunities there are for those obstacles.

We always put our summary bullet points, which might be our calls to action, are the most important things that they always referenced at the end. They have to listen, read, watched, go through the whole thing before they get to that point. While we do have it, it’s so far down because there’s usually 6,000 words, it’s not up at the top. That’s the key because we do want to invite them through. We want to tease them into it because this is going to have a transformative result for them.

Anybody who’s a long-time reader or a customer knows we do create a long-form blog post that does have all the information in written form from the show. That’s true, but as Tracy said, it can be a 4 or 6,000-word blog post, the vast majority of people are not going to read that and are not going to want to read through it. It’s a way to get them to come from Google search. The reality is they far prefer to listen to it or watch it if there’s a video version than read it. The text is there as a wide net that we’ve cast out there for people looking for support who have those needs.

This is the way to take what is that hero’s journey and do it now. I want to briefly mention what a landing page looks like when you do this because a lot of you want to create those landing pages. Thinking about the landing page is that there are a lot of people who are farther along in their search. They know they have a wanted need. You’re not the first website they’ve come across, you’re not the first guru they’ve tried. Keeping in mind that I always build my landing pages with three sections for the calls to action, which they highly recommended building landing pages that you have your call to action a minimum of three times throughout it. It’s not that it’s a different call to action, it’s just the way that calls to action are framed up at the top is for our fast action takers.

I will frame that you have this problem, here are some of the pitfalls, you’ve been there, done this before, here’s why we’re different if you want to find out more call to action now. We’re inviting them to that fast call to action. What that looks like from a podcasting landing page standpoint for us, is that we’re here saying to you, “You’re out there. You’ve been struggling for months to try to start your podcast and you haven’t done it yet. Here’s why you haven’t done it yet.” We know what they are because we’ve seen it done it, been there and who we are on the way to that, we’ve helped set up over 575 shows.

They all have this issue but here’s what it’s going to take. If you want what it’s going to take to be successful and want a guide along the way, and don’t want to do stuff yourself, click this button and make an appointment. We set that up for the action takers to take who’ve been looking for a while, who field enough and are done with that to find us. It’s also set for the personality of a person. That quick action takers are our best clients. We set that up. The second part is going to go into a lot more detail. You see that in those long-tail landing pages, the ones that have the long sales form model and you’ve got the bullet points, the dos.

The direct response marketing.

You’ve got those long-tail whys, why not, the details in them. You’re basically removing barriers or highlighting the barriers along the way. That’s what you’re doing in the saying, “You’re the antidote to this.” Your next call to action then happens. The last section of it is usually the sales details, information and what they’re going to get if they join your program or what’s there and you’ll have another call to action there. We’re following that very same format but if you follow it in a more story-based and less salesy way, you might find more success because I’m not as put off by the way that it reads.

As podcasters, you provide warnings for your listeners about what not to do in certain aspects of life. Click To Tweet

I’ll give you an example. On that landing page, it’s always much more interesting if there are things that are visually engaging people as well as what they’re reading. People like to respond to images faster than they do to text. We do that on our landing page. We’ll have relevant images to the subject but there’s always a caption under that image. That caption is always repeating that call to action or that main message. People see the image, read the caption, they had read at the top, they have the call to action, they see it multiple places throughout it.

It’s reinforcement at it. The other thing, thinking about this landing page model of it being story-based, is it gets you out of the me thing, which so many of those salesy landing pages, “I’m the solution. I’m this, I’m that, believe me, trust me.” A landing page is an untrustworthy place. When I push it in and let you see yourself on my landing page, see your path to your journey, envision it like you want it to go, I’m less put off by the sales language. It feels like an invitation, a call to adventure and it doesn’t feel like a pushy sales message. That’s another reason why we want to try to do this.

The model, need, want, desire, your hero is your reader. You’re going to call them to adventure, guide them along the way, define all the tests, the pitfalls, all of those things in micro-content in your podcast. You’re going to introduce them to great helpers who can help them visualize the path, journey, success, pitfall, whatever it might be along the way. You’re going to give them this view, that transformation solutions, success lie with you. That’s it in a simple nutshell story-based podcasting.

Tracy, thank you so much for sharing that. Remember, you can find the blog post for this episode at There are many ways you can contact us, reach out to us there. We hope you enjoyed this. We back next time with another great episode.

Important links

Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!