- Know your audience
- Actively engage with your audience
- Network with other podcasters
- Be a guest yourself
- Make it effortless for your guests to promote your podcast
- Distribute your podcast in multiple channels
- Write SEO blog posts
- Preplan and have strategies in place before you start
- Create personalized art and graphic designs for promoting materials
- Know your stats
Every podcast starts with zero listeners and zero downloads. And since podcast discovery is still largely dependent on word of mouth (1), growing your podcast can be a difficult task.
And as every podcaster reading this already knows, a podcast is not only about creating content and putting it out there. There is so much work involved, like getting sponsorships, distributing content, engaging with the community, getting guests on board, and a lot more.
You can have the best possible content to impress your audience, but it is also as important to get your podcast out there.
A successful podcast means (2) you have excellent downloads; you get the most use of your content, leverage your podcast on different social media platforms, and have a loyal fanbase.
Accomplishing all of these sounds challenging. And that’s why we have put together these tips for growing your podcasts because whether you are a pro or just starting, everyone deserves to be heard (3).
Set Your Target Audience
Before committing to any particular growth strategy, try to niche down your target audience.
A little part of you may say My podcasts are for everyone; remember that the key to growing your audience is niche. Don’t cast a wide net and try to catch as many people as possible. Instead, pinpoint a unique value your podcast can bring to the world and consider the most likely audience to listen to your episodes.
“There are millions of podcasters out there with more joining in every day. And, you will need to have a deeper knowledge than your competitors to stand out. Niche down as much as possible to let your audience know what kind of value you offer then and why they should listen to you more.”
– Krystal, The Profit Podcast (4).
It will be easier to appeal to your audience if your topics are specific. For instance, if your podcast discusses episodes of your favorite sitcom, go after people with similar tastes in TV. You can attract consistent listeners if you narrow your focus.
Once you have set your target audience, research about them, know where they live, their interests, and what other podcasts they listen to, dig as much as you can to put your podcast in your audience’s mind.
More importantly, find out where your target audience exists online. What social media platforms do they use? Do they follow particular hashtags or subreddits? Find out where your audience already engages so you can learn how and where to reach them.
“Know your audience like you would know your friend. Know their wishes, their struggles, fears, their mind. It will make your content important and binge-worthy to your audience, who will also share it with other like-minded people.”
– Kim, Teachers Need Teachers (5).
Now, you will need money to invest in the tools and team to grow your podcast. And for that, you will need to land sponsors (6).
Don’t wait until you reach a certain growth point before going out for sponsors. Instead, start early.
You can create a list of your ideal sponsors as per the type of audience you are looking to build and start reaching out to them.
When we say start early, it doesn’t mean you reach out to your potential sponsors with some vague ideas and points. No, have a few episodes recorded in advance to show them that you are serious about it. Moreover, it will also allow them to taste your style.
You can also include names of well-known entrepreneurs or personalities who you have scheduled for upcoming interviews.
Be honest about how early you are in this journey, and share your vision, like how you want your podcast to be and how many episodes you are looking to publish in the initial few months or first year.
The sponsor money can help you in your podcast processes like promoting content, publishing more episodes, booking guests, etc. In addition, an agreement with a sponsor will also create accountability for you (7).
Create A Website For Your Podcast
A website is very important to optimize your user experience and market your podcast to sponsors and listeners.
Consider your podcast homepage as a sales landing page. Design your page with the same scrutiny level as you would for your product or service marketing site.
Ensure you include iTunes Smart App Banners, a consistent navigation bar with your logo everything, hero and subscribe CTAs, embedded player, sponsors and testimonials, episodes, and footer with social media links.
“We have created a website for our podcast and ask our audience to subscribe to get notified when we upload a new episode.”
– Rene, The Rough and Real Podcast (8).
Each of your episodes will have its show notes, and a blog will offer you an opportunity to pitch your episode to potential new audiences. Use hooks from the episode as teasers and encourage people to listen to your podcast to get the full story. If relevant, a blog will also give you a chance to add additional resources to your episode.
Your blog will also benefit your platform from an SEO perspective, especially when your episodes start building up and your back catalog lengthens. Hence it is essential to format your show notes correctly and target specific keywords around the topic of your episode as you would with any of your blog posts.
But your writing doesn’t have to stop there. You can get a lot of benefit from SEO traffic if you take the time to repurpose your podcast episodes into long blog posts. It can be an efficient way to create high-value blog posts for your brand.
In this case, your key theme would be to take an episode and expand it into writing. You can also bring additional expert input both externally and internally to your story. It would make great bonus content for your listeners who wish to go deeper.
Other blog content ideas to increase your engagement, bring out your brand and personality, and boost organic search traffic include:
- episode and season previews
- bonus interviews, additional guests, behind-the-scene parts that didn’t make it to the final podcast cut
- guest posts from contributors, fans, and guests
- using posts to resurface old episodes based on current events, holidays, etc.
You can also design your site in a way that answers the most common queries of your guests. You can highlight topics you discuss on your shows, things like key logistical needs, and also allow them to book a spot in your upcoming shows (9).
In the beginning, you can do much of the guest outreach yourself. However, as your channel grows, you can hire interns or part-time employees to help you with it. It will allow you to completely free yourself from guest scheduling and focus on other matters.
Your employees can prepare a list of potential guests, including their name, company, links to their social media, and other background information.
Once you review to list and approve guests you feel are good for your show, your team can contact them. You can premake an email template and use spreadsheets to track the status of each outreach.
Your email template can include:
- Eye-catching subject and personal greeting
- Introduction to you and your podcast
- Information about past guests and data to build social proof.
- A unique gif for a final touch.
Make sure your team personalizes each email. This way, from start to finish, you will only need to approve potential guest names.
“When we have guests on board, they usually promote their appearance in their social circles. Episodes with guests have double plays, and we see increased plays continue gradually over time after their appearances.”
– Chirs, Detroit Arcade Club (10).
Why are Guests Important?
A guest can be excellent to expand your audience. Your guests can be your friends or families, experts in your field, or someone you idolize. You can also encourage them to promote the podcast episodes they are on so you can tap into their followers as well.
You can make it effortless for them to promote your podcast by offering them a mini press kit with assets like a link to the episode, a suggested copy, some cover art, an interesting quote from the interview, a special behind the scene photo, etc.; they can easily post. You can also tweet about them and tag their social media account. In more cases, they will retweet and share it with their followers, increasing your reach.
Also, remember to keep tabs on your past guests, follow them on social media, congratulate them publicly and reshare their episodes if something big happens for them.
Similarly, keep track of current events, holidays, and moments relevant to your podcast, post about them, and connect them with your shows. These practices will allow you to become a relevant and reliable information source to your audience (11, 12).
That’s why you need effective editing and distribution.
Editing and Distribution
Once you are done recording a new episode, you can get one of your employees to listen to it, pull out notes, resources, key takeaways, and at least five quotes.
Then, they can use this information in a series of social media assets using your branded templates. Your team can easily produce multiple contents for social media sites with your set ready-to-use branded templates. You can utilize tools like Canva or Adobe XD to make them.
You can use distribution channels like TikTok (about four times a day), YouTube (two to three times a week), Twitter (four times a day), Instagram (multiple posts a day, including reels, stories, and IGTV videos), LinkedIn (four times a week), and Newsletter (once or twice a week) for your posts.
From time to time, you can refine your social media strategies and ensure that you run all your channels smoothly. Once you have all your strategies in place, you can turn your attention to secure more distribution partners and drive your audience and downloads.
On the side, you can also benefit your website traffic and create a paid community, launch ebooks, and expand your brand offerings. And to achieve all these, you will also need to put yourself out there.
“I self-published a fictional horror book in October 2020 and used the same strategy to promote it with some paid Facebook and Pinterest ads.”
– Cynthia, True Hauntings and Scary Stories (13).
Actively Participate in Your Podcast Community
One crucial way to expand your podcast is to actively participate in the community and bring up your podcast on social media platforms. Apart from having guests on your show, you can also offer yourself up as a guest on other podcasts. You can try attending events, conferences, meet-ups related to podcasting and your niche. And when you are there, you can introduce yourself and your show to others.
In short, be your podcast’s biggest advocate and promote your show wherever you can, and create meaningful connections with people in the community.
Mention your podcast when giving a talk or chatting with coworkers. Why stop there? Show up wearing your podcast merch with some fliers to any festivals, concerts, or public events. Connect with local businesses to post your podcast’s flyers or cards on coffee shops, community boards, and libraries.
You can also spread love in the community by promoting other people’s content and shows. There is always a possibility they will return the favor. And if you are looking for an easy way to share your podcast, consider creating an anchor profile that is a streamlined place for all the content related to your podcast, links to your social media accounts, a spot for your podcast trailer, and colorful background designed to match your podcast cover art (14).
Use your creative vision to customize your profile and share it with others to showcase everything related to the show with a single link.
Creating Teaser and Trailer
Trailers are an easy way to get a new audience hooked by offering them a sneak preview of your shows and episodes are all about.
You will get a chance to highlight the unique value of your podcast with a trailer and practice pitching your show under concise constraints.
“Realising a short podcast trailer before launch will help establish what your content is about and acts as a teaser to excite your audience for more future episodes.”
– Buzzsprout (15).
Check Your Metrics and Stats
You will need to measure your stats and consider what your podcast success means to you. Your podcast metrics can be quantitative, like your total episode play numbers, subscriber counts, etc. They can also be qualitative such as a high rating or engaged listenership.
If you are looking to generate sponsorship revenue, you may need to grow your audience towards a particular CPM. If you are interested in the impact of your show on your listeners, you will need to adapt to effective strategies for outreach and engagement to grow your audience.
If you are listed on Spotify or Apple Podcast, you can also find insights for your podcasts via the Podcasters analytics dashboard. They are useful to know which of your episodes resonate with your audience the most, which segments they are skipping, and where you are losing your listeners (16).
What is Next?
Always remember, you have to respect the platform no matter where you are posting your podcast. Avoid uploading the same audio file everywhere. Imagine listening to a podcaster saying, “Don’t forget to subscribe and rate us on iTunes” on Soundcloud or Spotify.
It is important to fit your content as per the style of each platform and its audience. It will take a bit more time and effort to understand the distinctions. However, if a platform is worth pursuing the growth of your podcast, then it is also worth doing it right.
Because it doesn’t matter how you would measure success, sustained audience growth needs time and effort. It may take a while before your podcast starts taking off, and it is alright. You can successfully gather new listeners with a positive attitude and consistent promotion.
Remember, having a podcast will always be something to be proud of, whether you have one or a million audiences.