This is the Part 2 of our podcasting series: Listen In. In this series, we reach out to various podcasters to cover a variety of different ways that your podcast can drive the listenership that you desire. You don’t want your podcasts to go in one ear and out the other. We’re here to help, so all you need to do is: Listen In!
Click here to read Part 1, which covers the usefulness of transcription services for podcasts. Growing a podcast audience is arguably the most important step that new podcasters need to take in order build up a successful show. Having an undeniable passion for communicating through podcasts is great, but if you want to gain a strong following, then you need to implement some strategies for growing and maintaining an audience.
There are many different ways to promote a podcast and build a strong following, but knowing the best steps to take is always difficult. From influencer outreach to social media, it’s important to explore all outlets and strategies that could help you take your podcast audience to the top. We reached out to a few known podcasters to discover the methods that they used to grow their audiences. These are the responses that we received:
Facebook and Twitter seem to be the go-to social media platforms for people to promote their business. The issue with this is that it’s often tough for your target market to find you through these outlets unless you pay for advertisements -- and even then, it’s not always a sure thing. Reddit is a site that allows you to find niche audiences that would find your content relevant and build effective relationships with them. However, the key is to understand the site before reeling in your audience.
Reddit is organized into various forums that are known as subreddits. Subreddits are often catered towards a very specific topic, and there are so many that you are bound to find one related to the topic of your podcast that receives some traffic. Each subreddit has their own specific set of rules, so it’s important to read them before posting anything. Self-promotion is also highly frowned upon if you haven’t gained a positive reputation on the site.
“Our podcast growth can be boiled down to one word: Reddit. Facebook and Twitter can be effective, especially if you have a large ad budget. But for those of us with a small (or no) budget, Reddit is a godsend, as it can help you find and tap into an active, engaged audience with an interest in what you're podcasting about.
A few months after getting active on Reddit, our total downloads rose by over 300%. Many of those listeners stuck around, too, quickly increasing our subscriber count by about 100%. The trick with Reddit, though, is that you can't just head in and start posting links to your own content. Redditors are notoriously good at sniffing out spam or sales, and moderators may get wise and start deleting your posts. Start by getting involved in the subreddits that you want to post in: comment on threads, ask questions, and post interesting links (from sites other than yours!). Once you've started to build good "karma" (points gained from people "upvoting" your comments and links), begin posting your own content. Don't stop doing the other things, though!
Being active on Reddit isn't the end-all, of course; you must maintain a good presence on other social media. And one final thought on Reddit: It can send a lot of traffic, but those folks won't stick around and won't give you good karma if the content you're sending readers to isn't quickly engaging, or worse, is irrelevant to the audience.”
- Craig Hanks, Host of The Legendarium Podcast
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A harsh truth about podcasts is that there are so many available that cover such a wide range of topics, that it’s easy for yours to get lost in cyberspace. The key is to find a topic that you are very passionate about and find something about it that has hardly (or never) been covered by another show. This is one of the trickiest and also most important steps when creating your podcast.
“Make sure you choose a topic that is highly saturated (and also interests you), AND find an angle that has never been covered within this topic. As an example, my life’s deepest [passion] has always been entrepreneurship and business. There are so many podcasts out there interviewing successful entrepreneurs.They talk about tips, tricks, advice, and their success stories. I found an angle that was not covered - mistakes.
Now I get to build a new community within a highly saturated and competitive topic. All just because I provided an angle which feels like a breath of fresh air for the listeners."
- James Richman, host of Business Mistakes
It’s important to not just let your podcasts sit there waiting to be found, because they won’t be unless you promote it in some way. A lot of people have the unfortunate misconception that if they create engaging content, then the audience will come on its own. Promotion and outreach need to be at the forefront of your strategic planning.
“Advertise it wherever you can, send out press releases, contact talent agencies and book publishers, etc. for guest opportunities, and do some interesting promotions and giveaway opportunities.
What’s most important is to find where your target audience likes to spend their time and promote your show there. Whether it be online forums or social media, just talking about your podcast and posting the content on a consistent basis can net you a strong following. Don’t ignore the effectiveness of printed flyers as well, with a QR code included.
If you can book a high-profile guest for one of your first shows, then you can easily build an audience based solely around followers of that particular guest. Don’t expect to get Jay-Z for your first show, but rather look at some very strong influencers or subject matter experts in the topic that you’re discussing and network with them.
“I grew my podcast greatly by bringing on high profile guests. These guests will market your podcast for you when they share it with their already loyal follower base.”
- Nihar Suthar, www.niharsuthar.com
Build a relationship with them before asking them to be on your show, rather than flat-out asking them before they even know who you are. If you can strike up a conversation with an influencer outside of a podcast setting, then they’ll be more likely to sit down and talk to you again with a microphone in front of them.
Naresh Vissa, Author of PODCASTNOMICS: The Book Of Podcasting... To Make You Millions, offered up a list of steps that every podcaster should pay close attention to. Naresh believes that none of these steps should be ignored if you want to build your audience. Here are the steps that he outlined:
- Become an early mover in a niche - “In finance, which is my technical background, the growing niches are digital currencies and crowdfunding. Typing these keywords into iTunes nets very little results, so that means that there is a big opportunity! Just find a specific something that you love, and you’ll find it’s hard to stop talking about it."
- Release frequent content early on in the process - “The more content you pump out right when you launch on iTunes, the longer it’ll be featured on the ‘New & Noteworthy’ section, where your content could be featured for as long as two months. After these two months, lessen the frequency of your podcasts to once a week. Tuesday is when iTunes gets the most traffic.”
- Use all distribution networks -“It’s important to focus on much more than just iTunes.”
- Create a separate website that captures leads and makes the podcasts available - “The point of iTunes is to bring in new listeners, but you’ll then want to funnel those listeners into a network where you can directly engage with them. In order to engage, you need to post blog articles on your site and send email updates to people that subscribe on your site.”
- Grow your mailing list - “In order to engage with your audience outside of your podcasts, you should have a free newsletter mailing list on your website. MailChimp is the easiest and is quickly becoming the most common email service provider.”
- Convert audio podcasts into print content to improve SEO and share-ability - “Transcriptions are great for content generation. By having your content written out, you can have specific segments from your podcasts handy and post on your website’s blog. You can also turn good portions of a podcast into blog posts.”
In addition to what was mentioned above, sending your guests links to their episodes is a great way to maintain relationships and increase the probability that they’ll share the episode on their social media. Make sure to thank your guests and include all your social media profiles for them to follow you.
Also, the point about transcriptions being a great way to increase SEO and shareability was discussed in our first Listen In piece and is still a very important concept to be aware of. If you want to try using transcription services for your podcasts, we have a special program for podcasters to receive a perpetual discount off transcripts. You can apply here.
It’s important not to take each of the strategies mentioned above singularly, but rather use each one to some extent. Building your podcast audience must be strategized beforehand and each of the strategies that are used should complement each other seamlessly. Once you develop a step-by-step plan, growing your podcast won’t seem like such a daunting task.