Emily Abbate: “Interact with your listeners as much as possible; Remember this is a two-way conversation,”

…interact with your listeners as much as possible. Create social media accounts. Tag it up. Remember: this is a two-way conversation, people want to get to know you the podcaster and have a conversation, not just listen to the ones you’re posting in the iTunes store. As part of my series of interviews about “5 things […]

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…interact with your listeners as much as possible. Create social media accounts. Tag it up. Remember: this is a two-way conversation, people want to get to know you the podcaster and have a conversation, not just listen to the ones you’re posting in the iTunes store.

As part of my series of interviews about “5 things you need to know to create a “binge-able” podcast”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily Abbate. Emily is a freelance fitness writer and editor living in NYC with bylines everywhere from GQ to SHAPE. When she’s not tapping words to laptop, the certified trainer, run coach, and seven-time marathoner is working on her podcast Hurdle, which talks to everyone from entrepreneurs to top CEOs and athletes about how they got through tough times — hurdles of sorts — by leaning into wellness.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Emily! Can you tell us the “backstory” about why or how you got started as a podcaster?

After SELF Magazine folded at the end of 2016, I was thrust into life as a full-time freelance writer and editor. Looking for a fun way to channel her creative energy and make something of my own, I came up with the idea for Hurdle. It instantly became a labor of love.

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

Hurdle brought me on my first-ever self-employed business trip to Los Angeles, recording five different episodes within 72 hours, arriving to at least half of those on scooter with all of her equipment in tow.

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

I was super amped to record inside a WeWork conference room with Sarah Larson Levey, a friend of hers and the co-founder of Y7. We had a blast talking through the beginnings of Sarah’s hip-hop inspired yoga studio, and when I got back to her apartment to listen through the audio, I realized the acoustics were so awful that the interview was un-usable. After chatting through what happened with Sarah, (“I thought you were going to tell me someone died … “) we re-recorded, and I learned exactly how and where to best record the podcast going forward, leaning into a recording studio inside the Empire State location for the next year or so.

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

I’ve been podcasting since the end of 2017, and have launched more than 70 episodes to date.

What are the main takeaways or lessons you want your listeners to walk away with?

Each person has hurdles that they are going to go through life. Some big, some small. Every bump in the road happens to teach us something great, and we have the opportunity to create whatever we want to in their wake.

Ok super. Now let’s jump to the core of our discussion. You are a very successful podcaster. Can you share with our readers the five things you need to know to create an extremely successful podcast? Specifically, we would love to hear lessons from your experience about the best ways to: 1) book great guests; 2) increase listeners; 3) produce it in a professional way; 4) encourage engagement; and 5) best way to monetize it? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. The secret to booking great guests is simply to ask, period. You’re never going to get your dream guest if you don’t go out of your way and push your comfort zone. The worst thing they can do is say no, after all. I’m always looking to network and open to meeting new people — whether that’s at my WeWork or walking through Grand Central. You have to be open to any and every opportunity.
  2. You have to be shameless about self promotion, and ask for it in your episode as well. When consumers are listening to your episode, they’ll be happy to share if you ask them to. Also, calling out listeners who engage with the podcast on your podcast is a great way to encourage interactivity.
  3. The best thing I did producing my podcast, aside from spending hours playing with GarageBand, is purchase two filters from a company called CrumplePop. These filters cost about $100 each, and dramatically improve the quality of every recording by eliminating echo and reducing other background noise.
  4. Again, interact with your listeners as much as possible. Create social media accounts. Tag it up. Remember: this is a two-way conversation, people want to get to know you the podcaster and have a conversation, not just listen to the ones you’re posting in the iTunes store.
  5. If you’re going to sell sponsorship messaging on your podcast, make sure you’re doing so to brands that you feel like truly align with your values. It’s more important to me to work with like-minded teams than it is to make money; don’t sell too soon or off-brand, your audience won’t appreciate it.

From your vantage point what are some of the reasons why a person should consider creating a podcast series?

Everyone has something special that they can share with the world, because there is only one version of you. Figure out exactly what your niche is, and build rom there. That’s the best advice: find what makes you uniquely you, and bring that to life.

Nowadays it seems as if everyone is trying to jump on the podcast bandwagon. Are there people to whom you would advise to avoid podcasting and instead focus on another medium?

Everyone can have a podcast, but there may be parts of the creation process that just aren’t your strong suit. Maybe you’re great at hosting, but don’t know the first thing about editing or producing. That’s OK. Own your strengths, and don’t overthink the process. The last thing you need to do is put off something that excites you because of the unknown.

How has your position as a podcast host and a person of high authority, impacted your business, sales, and/or increased your opportunities? Can you share a story with us?

I have been able to partner with some really great brands to create live Hurdle recordings, from Tory Sport and WeWork to Paragon Sports, Athletic Greens, and ON Running. Through these live activations, I’ve been able to bring together “Hurdlers” (That’s what I call my audience) to connect in real life; a really rewarding, special experience. I now do a lot more public speaking and panel moderation, which have contributed to my business goals throughout 2019.

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?

I bring to the table my experience with a major 70-pound weight loss back in college, which inspired me to pick up running and become both a certified trainer and run coach. Now a seven-time marathoner as well as a veteran journalist, I got the professional experience to ask the hard questions with the personal experience to relate to my guests in a next-level way.

Where can our readers find you on Social Media?



Some of the biggest names in Business, Marketing, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a specific high-value guest (obviously still living) that you would love to interview on your show, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them!

Serena Williams

Serena’s one of the most excellent athletes of my time and also such a powerful force. She’s faced so much adversity in her career, a lot of which I know would resonate with the Hurdle audience.

Devon Still

After following the story of his daughter’s struggle with cancer, I know that he’d have so many inspirational things to say to the Hurdle audience. His attitude and positive outlook on life is refreshing.

Thank you so much for sharing your insights!

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