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Holly Shannon of ‘Zero To Podcast’: “You will always be promoting”

In writing the book and in mentoring, I have gained a reputation for my achievements and been given the opportunity to speak at several well reputed conferences with global reach. As a part of our series about “How You Can Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Holly […]

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In writing the book and in mentoring, I have gained a reputation for my achievements and been given the opportunity to speak at several well reputed conferences with global reach.


As a part of our series about “How You Can Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Holly Shannon.

Holly Shannon builds podcasts for businesses as a tool to highlight thought leadership, capitalize on a branding tool, pump-up lead generation and provide a myriad of marketing tools. You could say she’s a Swiss Army Knife in business. With a background in 5-star hospitality and leading teams in the event space she pivoted into podcasting with Culture Factor 2.0. She scaled the podcast to be in the Top 3% globally in a pool of 2M million ranked podcasts. Learning along the way that a podcast gives global reach and implements this in the B2B market to give their voice and ideas a place on iTunes and Spotify to grow their business footprint.

Holly created Culture Factor 2.0 to address the framework of business in the new normal. To explore culture as the strategy, she looks in places we haven’t before. According to Holly, leadership isn’t only from the c-suite it’s emerging everywhere. Holly believes that to understand the human side of company culture and the new shape it is taking we have to look at culture from start-ups to venture capital to the gig economy and beyond. This podcast is ranked a Top 10 in Workplace and Company Culture.

Holly Shannon is the Author of Zero To Podcast, it hit #1 on AMAZON in Hot New Releases in 2 categories and is a Top 10 AMAZON Bestseller in 3 categories. It is carried in the UChicago Co-op Bookstore.

You’ll find published articles in Hubspot Marketing, Medium and RevGeniusMag.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share a story about what motivated you to become an expert in the particular area that you are writing about?

I got into podcasting by accident while working on a SaaS start-up. But being a podcast junkie to begin with, I was always listening, admiring and sharing shows!

Marketing with audio and social tools became an obsession overnight. The human voice has nuance, strength, feeling and emotion. I knew I found my home immediately and also felt I could have the most impact there too.

Can you share a pivotal story that shaped the course of your career?

I have several of those! I have had a house fire, a recession and a pandemic shift my course over the years. Through each iteration of my career, I’ve learned that resilience is in my DNA and a growth mindset is my driver. To reflect on one of those stories, I’ll share the one that is most relevant to the world. The pandemic decimated my marketing career in the event space. When I leaned into my marketing strategy and content experience is when I course-corrected into podcasting and business strategy. It’s a robust marketing tool and I’ve refined and squeezed the best of the medium to support businesses and individuals. It’s a tool for thought leadership, branding, and lead generation. It can open doors to partnerships, community and monetization. But bottom line, it is a medium with global reach and provides a pretty cool marketing game.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Are you working on any new writing projects?

I built and scaled my podcast, Culture Factor 2.0. It’s globally ranked in the Top 3%. This pushed me to write my book, Zero To Podcast for all the marketing reasons I stated earlier. And now I’m running Clubhouse workshops where I dive into business strategy for businesses and individuals in an effort to mentor at scale from that platform.

I’m recording the content Live, and will launch a podcast this summer, aptly named, Zero To Podcast, like the book.

Thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you please tell us a bit about your book? Can you please share a specific passage or story that illustrates the main theme of your book?

My book, Zero To Podcast, is the concise volume for launching your idea to iTunes. The theme taps into letting people know that their ideas and their voice matter. Their story or expertise needs to be heard. For businesses, it’s a powerful tool especially if they are their industry’s best kept secret! It’s also a fully democratized platform. So it’s an opportunity for anyone to get their stories out there or support whomever their community is, through voice. There are also very few barriers to entry. You don’t need money or technical expertise, that is, if you are using either as your reason to not start a podcast.

You are a successful author and thought leader. Which three character traits do you feel were most instrumental to your success when launching your book? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. Growth mindset. I love learning. I learn new technology and hobbies all the time because I am insanely curious. I like to strengthen my brain by pushing through things I do not know.
  2. Resilience: I wrote this book during a pandemic. I was in the process of selling my home and moving to another state. I was launching my son into a new school in a different city. And was living out of a hotel for 3 months during it all. This level of stress and pressure actually made me focus and be hyper-vigilant in writing this book and taking the steps to self-publish it.
  3. EQ: My empathy/emotional quotient is one of my best traits. Being sensitive to others’ voices, needs and ideas requires you to listen and not use your IQ to push people away from having their ideas, thoughts or issues addressed. I’ve become stronger at this through podcasting. It is less about what I know and more about highlighting the great minds I’m fortunate enough to interview. That all said, I think there was a time in my life that EQ was considered a negative trait. But now I realize it’s my superpower. Being sensitive and open to conversation, listening intently and knowing when not to add your opinion is a talent within itself.

In my work, I have found that writing a book can be a great way to grow a brand. Can you share some stories or examples from your own experience about how you helped your own business or brand grow by writing a book? What was the “before and after picture?” What were things like before, and how did things change after the book?

I believe that people in business respected my work on the podcast. They were open to coming on the show and I was fortunate to be able to ask some incredible people. However, writing a book on it gave me street credibility. It gave me the idea for a club in Clubhouse where I could mentor and take it to the next level.

In writing the book and in mentoring, I have gained a reputation for my achievements and been given the opportunity to speak at several well reputed conferences with global reach.

I have been repeatedly asked to guest on other people’s podcasts.

I was recently featured as a contributor in a Hubspot Marketing article as well.

And now, through this all, I’m working with business executives and individuals. I’m helping them build a podcast so they can step into their power and be heard as the thought leaders they are.

If a friend came to you and said “I’m considering writing a book but I’m on the fence if it is worth the effort and expense” what would you answer? Can you explain how writing a book in particular, and thought leadership in general, can create lucrative opportunities and help a business or brand grow?

Write the book! Nothing elevates your brand, business and relationships as well as a book. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say book and a podcast! Nevertheless, a well written summation of your story, a chronicle of your failures and successes, an ebook of how you scale your business will take you further than ever before. You will be respected due to the sheer undertaking. But you’ll have a reason to speak at events, or to land podcasts for global reach. It’ll bring customers to your website and you’ll be seen as the expert that you are.

And if you are writing a book as a personal memoir or a piece of fiction, it is worth the effort to share your story with the world. You will always touch someone with it. We are more alike than we are different, your story will always be relatable.

What are the things that you wish you knew about promoting a book before you started? What did you learn the hard way? Can you share some stories about that which other aspiring writers can learn from?

Promoting a book is really time consuming. I cannot lie. You can shop your book to publishing houses, but they don’t market the book. So you’ll need to do that piece anyway. They will also take a huge cut of the book. So I believe self-publishing is the way to go, at least for the first book.

However, self publishing is no walk in the park either.

I struggled with Amazon’s user interface because I found it clunky and not intuitive.

I struggled with the formatting and had to hire a virtual assistant to format my book cover for paperback and ebook versions.

I had to outsource to convert the manual because my computer lacked the program they used and there was coding involved in the Kindle version.

This all sounds daunting I realize, but they are things you can fix as you go. I want you to know that the finished product was well worth the aggravations along the way. From start to finish it took me a month to self-publish on Amazon.

And yes, I’d do it again.

Based on your experience, which promotional elements would you recommend to an author to cover on their own and when would you recommend engaging an expert?

You can promote your book on podcasts, in bookstores, at trade shows or conferences and with book clubs. Schools and businesses could also find your work interesting.

If you do not have the time to promote,

  1. You can outsource to a marketing or social media expert.
  2. You can create a campaign for your social sites and schedule the content and promotions to go out gradually so you aren’t posting everyday.
  3. There are podcast agents you can pay for the service of getting on shows.
  4. I also have a course, ‘How To Be a Podcast Guest’ that is applicable to business people and authors. This is offered on my website in the Store. And will guide you how to get on relevant shows without paying for that service.

Wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your own experience and success, what are the “five things an author needs to know to successfully promote and market a book?” If you can, please share a story or example for each.

  1. To say one thing about writing: be patient with the process. You will have days that the ideas flow and you cannot write fast enough. There will be days that you have no words. Writing a book is a marathon, not a sprint. Be nice to yourself on the days that you have no words. I do recommend that you lay out a timeline though for accountability of this writing process.
  2. You will always be promoting. Once the book is written, have your elevator pitch ready because you’ll be your best agent for selling the book.
  3. Think out of the box. Can you sell a larger quantity to school and offer a free webinar or live talk? Can you create a Q&A Live on Instagram and ask friends to invite one person?
  4. Have printed versions ready to give away and do this often. You could also find influencers on social media that recommend books and send them a free copy.
  5. When you find buyers that love your book, make them Brand Ambassadors. Offer them a free ticket to an event if they would share your book with more people. Ask if they’ll write a testimonial and post it on your social media sites and your website.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

I love the humility and sheer grace of power that Melinda Gates wields. I would be honored to share a table with her.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

My website is hollyshannon.com. My social on IG is @hollyeshannon, Clubhouse @hollyshannon and on Linkedin https://linkedin.com/in/hollyshannon1/

Thank you for these excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent. We wish you continued success with your book promotion and growing your brand.

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