While the success of podcasts can be determined by the force of ideas and skillful execution of content, nailing the introduction to your show can go a long way towards helping your podcast stand out amongst an ever-expanding market of free and easily accessible audio entertainment.
What makes a good podcast intro?
A good podcast introduction should support the central idea that drives the content of the show. It serves to reinforce the overarching theme that unifies the disparate episodes of a given series.
There is no strict way to create an introduction for your podcast. When deciding how to structure your show, you want to do what you think makes the most sense. Don’t worry overmuch about what someone else — someone who doesn’t even know what central idea you want to convey — has decided is best. While you shouldn’t simply follow the pack, there are a few fundamental elements that should be kept in mind when deciding the best way to introduce or close your podcast.
How to make a podcast intro
When a new listener stumbles across your show, you get one (1) chance to impress them. Unlike your more veteran audience members, they have no reason to trust you or the content you produce. You need to have them riveted from the outset.
The best way to accomplish this is to convey that your podcast will cover something you know your target audience will care about. A good podcast intro makes a promise to your audience; it lets them know who’s talking, what they're going to be talking about, and teases what value they’ll gain from listening to the content of your show. New listeners will often make their decision based on whether or not this promise aligns with their interests and needs, so it’s crucial that you are upfront about the core idea that’s driving your series as well as that particular episode.
Here are some of the more common elements that can be found in successful podcasts across a wide variety of formats and subjects:
A typical intro runs for about 30 seconds and is usually 75-80 words long. However, you should feel free to deviate from those numbers as much as you see fit, so long as you are clear and concise in telling your audience what to expect.
How to make a podcast outro
The outro for your podcast has significantly lower stakes than that of your intro, yet is still a crucial element of a successful show.
If someone’s listening to your outro, chances are they liked your show enough to stick around through the entire thing, which is fantastic! Now that the listener has invested a substantial amount of time into your content, it’s the perfect opportunity to ask something of them. You might want to consider using this closing segment to prompt your listeners to subscribe to your show, leave a review on their platform, or even donate a small amount of money to a Patreon account you can set up to financially support your podcast.
Remember to be grateful for every comment and subscriber your show garners; receiving support to create content full time is one of the coolest jobs in the world. Make sure that gratitude shines through in your outro!
Standardizing your intro and outro
One of the most powerful outcomes that an intro and outro can have on a podcast is that they can help establish a show’s particular brand. By standardizing the opening and closing segments of your show, you can give your audience something to unify their experience and help them build a relationship with your content. Below are some tools you can use to help you accomplish this:
Script and voice
One of the most common ways to standardize your content is by preparing a script for how you want your intro or outro to sound. This can be as simple as a few lines of written dialogue or a signature phrase or as complex as a fully fleshed-out overview of the current episode.
If you want to add an extra layer of production value to your podcast’s intro, you might want to consider finding professional vocal talent to read the script. Voice123 and voices.com are both excellent resources to quickly and easily find voice-over artists for your introduction. Both are free to use (you’ll still have to pay the voice artist) and let you listen to samples and auditions done by interested voice talent before making a selection.
While this is a nice touch, it can be somewhat expensive and is by no means necessary for your podcast to succeed. However, you might want to consider adding this if your show begins to pick up some steam.
Music is not necessary to introduce or close out your podcast. That being said, it can be a useful tool for setting the mood of your podcast, as well as giving your listeners something familiar to orient themselves with at the start of each episode.
When selecting music for your intro or outro, you want to find something that is distinct. Choosing a song that’s been used hundreds of times by other content creators will make your show feel samey and bland, which is the exact opposite of what you want when building your podcast’s brand.
Free music options
Paying royalties for a song to use in your intro or outro can get pricey fast. If you’re just starting your podcast, chances are you don’t have a large budget to support your show. Below you can find some websites where you can get access to royalty-free music:
Started in 2009, the purpose of Epidemic Sound is to make potential outcomes and advantages around music in all stages. It’s regarded as one of the best places to get music that isn’t locked under copyright.
The YouTube audio library is one of the easiest to use and most popular sources for finding free music on the internet. It has hundreds of royalty-free tracks and sound effects that can be filtered by genre, instrument, mood, duration, and attribution.
Filmstro is another great option with a wide variety of music to choose from. You can download static mp3's for free or grab a license for a fairly reasonable price to get a broader range of songs and files.
TIP: Not happy with any of the free music choices above? If you have extra time on your hands, consider making your own original into tune using free music making software.
Producing the intro
Once you have all the elements of your intro, it’s time to pull it all together. You’ll want to put each audio file into your audio editing software with each item on a separate track. These tools let you cut and trim audio files to your liking, change the pitch and frequency of a track, and even remove extra noise from your recordings.
After that, it’s up to you to start cutting, arranging and adjusting until you have an intro and outro that sounds exactly how you want it. Don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t turn out perfectly right away. Learning audio-editing software takes time, and putting together a finished product can be hit or miss at first. Stick with it until you get it right.
Get to it
Your podcast’s intro and outro are some of the best tools you have for growing your audience and finding new listeners. By carefully crafting a standardized hook that conveys the core idea of your show, you can begin to build a community of like-minded individuals around your content.
Looking for more information on how to get started podcasting? Check out our guide on how to start a podcast for a full overview of what you need to know.
Piper is a former content associate at G2. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, they graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in Sociology. Their interests include podcasts, rock climbing, and understanding how people form systems of knowledge in the digital age. (they/them/theirs)