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PodSchool Podcast | How do you grow your podcast audience?

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How to grow your podcast audience and get more listeners

How to get more people listening to your podcast

Bringing more listeners to your podcast is the mountain we all have to climb and unfortunately, there’s no single path to the summit (so please be wary of anyone who tells you there is).

There are plenty of things you can do to set your podcast up for success BUT even if you’re doing all of them well, it’s still no guarantee listeners will flood into your show.

So what can you do to increase your chances of getting more ears on your podcast?

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Pay attention to the quality of your show

Podcasting is no longer the domain of bootstrapping novices recording a show in their echoey kitchen.  It’s a professional industry and if you want your podcast to attract and retain an audience you have to put serious time and effort into making it as good as it possibly can be.

That means planning your content, thinking about your audio quality and editing your podcast so you’re serving up the best possible version of your show.

How to record high-quality audio at home

Read

Release episodes regularly

One of the biggest influencers on podcast growth is consistency and most of the gains you’ll get in downloads will happen slowly over time.

Unfortunately, when everyone wants to know how to be successful IMMEDIATELY this can be a pretty underwhelming fact but if you want people to commit to your show you have to commit to them. 

That means if you’ve said you’re going to drop episodes every Tuesday morning you need to be there every Tuesday morning so your listeners know they can rely on you.

If an audience knows when to expect your show they’ll start to anticipate it.  And when they start to anticipate it, that’s when they’ll start moving from listeners to fans.

Once they’re fans they’ll start telling other people about your show and that’s still one of the most powerful ways to grow your podcast audience so it’s worth putting in the work to get people to that point.

Should you release your podcast episodes on the same day?

Read

Be creative with how you promote your podcast

No one is going to know about your show unless you tell them about it so you have to get in the habit of promoting each episode multiple times.

Sometimes it’ll take posting about your show 20 times before someone sees it, or before they finally decide to give it a try so sending a single tweet when your episode drops isn’t going to cut it.

Being creative with how you promote your show and trying to come up with different angles for each episode means you’ll increase the chances of someone being interested enough to press play.

To do that you need to come up with as many different ways to share your content as possible…

Create audio promos

Cutting up audio snippets and sharing them on social media gives people a way to hear what they’re going to get rather than you just telling them “Trust me!  It’s great!”

For example, here’s one of the promos I used for my interview podcast, You’ve Gotta Start Somewhere….

I’d create as many of these as I could and share them out across the week of release and in the weeks and months that followed so there were heaps of opportunities for people to hear something that might pique their interest.

How to promote your podcast

Read

Create interesting social media images and videos

There are so many websites where you can create images, videos and audio cards that are way more interesting than just sharing your show logo.

Audiograms are a great way to feature a small snippet of each episode and the moving waveform makes these posts stand out when people are scrolling through their feed…

Quote tiles are also a great way to feature a guest by highlighting something interesting they’ve said in the episode. These are especially good if you’ve got someone on your show people will recognise…

Image of Derryn Hinch with quote from interview on You've Gotta Start Somewhere

And when you’re making content don’t forget about your reviews too because they’re great social proof for new listeners…

You've Gotta Start Somewhere podcast review

Here are a few of my favourite sites for making content…

Wavve & Headliner – Tools that turns audio highlights of your show into shareable social media videos.

Canva – An easy to use site that helps you create images for all your social media platforms.

Hypetype – An app that creates moving text photos.

How to get multiple pieces of content out of one podcast episode

Read

Get to know your audience in Facebook groups and forums

Be warned this is a long term strategy and it’s often better for content ideas than it is for sharing BUT that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Jumping into a group or a forum for the first time and pumping out links to your podcast, or anything else for that matter, is frowned upon because cultivating a relationship with people in those groups takes time.   Members need to see you offering advice, content or comments without the expectation of anything in return for a while until they’ll trust you.

Having said that, a lot of Facebook groups have specific days you’re allowed to share things you’re working on so that can be a great opportunity for promotion.  Especially if the people in your group are your potential audience.

People often sell these as the answer to all your audience problems but I find a better way to use groups and forums is as a source of content.  People often post questions or talk about things they’re struggling with and this can be a great source of ideas for your show.

How to find content for your podcast

Read

Don’t forget hashtags

This is a bit of a no-brainer, but using hashtags when you share your podcast can help get it in front of people who are searching in your niche but who might not know you personally.

Make sure you research which hashtags suit your content best, so you can expand your reach outside your own social feed.

How to promote your podcast before it’s live

Read

Get everyone you know to listen, review and rate it

When you release your first episode, make sure you send a blanket email to everyone you know asking them to rate and review it.  And continue to do this once you’ve launched the show by encouraging your audience to rate and review it as well.

These ratings make sure when people stumble across your podcast, there are plenty of positive comments to reassure them it’ll be worth their time.

How long does it take to put together a podcast episode?

Read

Don’t forget about SEO

It’s important to do everything you can to increase your podcast’s chances of turning up in search.  That means you need to think about including keywords in your show title, description and show notes pages.

An easy way to do this is by transcribing your episodes and including the transcript in your show notes.  When you do this all the important keywords that are usually hidden in the MP3 file are there on your website ready to be found by Google.

If you’re thinking “I’m not going to sit down and type out my episodes!” Fear not!  There are plenty of services on the internet that do the hard work for you…

Trint

Rev

Be warned, these platforms aren’t foolproof and you still need to go through and edit the copy so it doesn’t sound like a robot wrote it if you’re using automatic transcription.

You also want to make sure your show notes pages and episode descriptions are more than just a copy and paste of your show transcript.

This could be how people find your show if they’re coming to your show notes via Google so you want to make sure the copy is compelling enough to get people to give your show a try.

A beginner’s guide to podcast SEO

Read

Bring on high-profile guests

Getting high profile guests on your show with a large social following can be a good way to grow your audience but the truth is you can’t rely on that to bring in the crowds alone.

Getting new listeners through another person’s social account depends on how engaged and interested their audience is and just because someone wants to see someone’s posts on Instagram doesn’t mean they want to listen to them on a podcast.

I’ve had people with huge followings on my show and it’s barely moved the needle.  But then sometimes you’ll have someone with a smaller following of really engaged people and it will make a difference.

It’s a great thing to have in the mix but it’s not an exact science.

How to attract high-profile guests to your podcast

Read

Be patient

The most important thing to remember when trying to grow your podcast audience is that it’s a long term goal and you have to keep chipping away at it.

You will get there but as with everything, it takes hard work and dedication.

Got a burning podcasting question you’d like answered? Send me an email.

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.

Got some time on your hands? Read the full episode transcript

Hello and welcome to the show, Today I'm going to be covering that all important topic - how to bring more listeners into your podcast. Oh, is this the mountain that we all need to climb and one that's so annoying because there's no one answer. There's plenty of different things you can try...and there's zero guarantees that any of them are going to work. So it's probably a good thing to adjust your expectations and to realise there is no silver bullet. And to be honest, anybody who tries to tell you that there is is a snake oil salesman.

I've seen plenty of people out there giving it the old "If you just follow my five steps to podcast perfection" and that is some Grade-A B.S. right there.

Some of the things that you can do and probably the most important one is to...

Put together a good show

That seems pretty simple but you really need a show that doesn't sound like shit. It's very hard sometimes when you have poured your heart and soul into something to look at it critically and it is very important that you do. I often suggest people give their podcasts to their friends but really that's of difficult because not everybody has critical friends. I have plenty of critical friends because I work in media and we've all created shows together and done radio and that kind of stuff. They know what sounds good and what doesn't and they have absolutely no problems telling me. But maybe you don't have someone in your life who's going to be comfortable telling you your show sucks. It can be a hard conversation to have so it's important that you find a way to be critical about your show and work out whether the content is strong enough. A lot of that will come down to not only planning but editing. If you plan the show well you will be more likely to stick with the stronger content. If alternatively you rabbit on for ages and you don't edit then there's going to be a lot of fluff that's going to bore your listeners and you need to get rid of it.

If you cut stuff down to the most important stuff and use editing as a tool that can really help things as well having an intro and outro so your show sounds professional. But at the bottom of all that, if your content is crap then it can be as sparkly as you want but nobody's going to listen. So it's really important to have the strongest content possible.

Editing can help you after the fact because sometimes when you're in the moment things happen and you rabbit on or you and your co-hosts go off piste so if you're editing things it can really help out.

Share your show on social media

Obviously sharing your show on social media using the appropriate hashtags can be pretty helpful. There are going to be people in your particular niche that are going to be looking for that kind of content so that can open up your podcast to a new audience that doesn't necessarily know you but is looking for somebody like you who is an expert or who has content that is in an area that they're interested in. It's really important to have those social platforms going using hashtags to get your show out there.

Get everyone you know to listen, review and rate it

There's no shame in it. I've done it recently for my podcast and there's nothing wrong with sending a blanket email to your nearest and dearest saying "Please listen to my new show and leave a review to help me build my audience." It helps you to build that early momentum that can be important to keep your podcast in the charts, to knock it into New and Noteworthy and to keep it top of mind in iTunes. Sometimes you can feel like a salesy chump but your mates will want to support you and it can really help since reviews and rating are just as important as downloads in iTunes. The more momentum you can keep rolling through the door the better it will be for your show.

Keep the appointment with your listeners

A lot of this comes down to really thinking seriously about what you're able to commit to before you start a podcast and then sticking to that plan. If you are absolutely slammed, running left right and centre it's ok if it takes you some time to start your podcast. The podcasting train is not going to shoot off in the distance and leave you behind forever. If you just need to get a few things off your plate then do that before ou start because once you pick a day/time and start releasing you have to keep that appointment with your listeners if you want them to stick around. If people are enjoying your content and they know when it's coming out they'll check in at that time. If you aren't there when you promised they'll be disappointed. And with so many options available, it doesn't take too much disappointment to turn people off your show. So it's really important once you commit that you keep to that and one of the easiest ways to do that is to record a bank of episodes and be a few weeks ahead of yourself. That helps to make sure you can release regularly because you're not left scrambling the night before thinking "Oh dear Lord I've got a podcast due tomorrow and I've got nothing to show for it.

Communicate with your audience via Facebook pages and forums

Something a lot of people suggest is heading onto forums and Facebook pages and I have in the in the time since I first started looking I actually found some great Facebook pages where people genuinely need assistance and it'll pop up in my feed and if I can help them out then I will pop a little message there to answer their query/question. The other great thing is that it's become a great resource for questions when I'm developing my PodSchool course because you can get a real sense of what people are struggling with. It's been very beneficial but the thing about going on those kinds of forums and Facebook pages is again they are a long term commitment. You cannot be the chump that rocks onto the Facebook page and starts posting their podcast episodes left right and centre without even saying hello. There are people within these communities that post continually and have been for years. So if you come in as the newbie trying to get everyone to listen to your episodes it's going to be pretty transparent and you'll be booted out in no time. However, if you do it right, those kinds of forums can help you build relationships, find new content and maybe find a new audience. It just won't be a gigantic audience because growth in your podcast is always going to be incremental. You might have certain things or certain guests that will share stuff on their social's that will mean you'll get a big bump in things but it's all about chipping away and it's a marathon, not a sprint. It's all a long-term goal.

Transcribe your episodes

The other thing that some shows do is that they transcribe their entire episode for SEO. You might have been on some shows show notes pages and seen a section where you can read through the transcript and thought "Is anybody reading this crap?" I would argue, nobody is. It's all for search engines so when people are searching for things all of those keywords they're interested in pop up in that person's page. It's a completely tactical move because if you are honestly sitting down to read a transcript of a podcast you've got too much time on your hands. I'll put some links in the show notes page at podschoolpodcast.com about some places that you can get transcription done of your audio files and that can be a good way to do things as well.

Bring on high-profile guests

Naturally getting high profile guests who have a social following on your show can be a good way to grow an audience but next week I'll be talking specifically about this because I've had a few people contact me via email to ask. The truth is that you just can't rely on that and you also can't get angry if someone won't tweet your show because it's their Twitter feed and they can do whatever they want with it. And there is nothing that will piss somebody off and kill a relationship with a high-profile guest quicker than nagging them to use their feed to promote your show. I will go into a bit more depth about that and the realities of using my high profile and celebrity guests on the show next week but it can be a way to build the show. And like I said before all these things are just little elements that will help you slowly build your audience over time. It's important that you do a whole bunch of things to try and get your audience to grow.

Be creative with show promotion

Think outside the box when it comes to promoting your episode. If you head to my Twitter feed @RachelCorbett you will see what I tweet out for my podcast, You've Gotta Start Somewhere. And I'll be brutally honest...it's a punish because it's a lot of extra work. I do seven promos a week for every show so that I can tweet one out each day of the week. Each promo is a highlight from the interview to give people a taste of what they can expect from the show and get them interested in the content. This way they can try before they subscribe and it's easier to give them a sense of the episode if they can hear some of it rather than just tweeting about it with no audio.

So those are some ways to bring in more listeners to your show. All of these little things about are the small ways that you can add up to a big audience. And the most important thing to realise is it's a long-term goal. These things build over time and you just have to kind of keep chipping away at it. You will get there but I don't want to say that it is going to happen quickly because as with anything worth achieving it all takes a lot of time and hard work.

If you consistently deliver every single week for your audience and you try and get it into as many new ears as possible and you're delivering great content then that is the best you can do. And you've got to just hope that the audience will find you and enjoy what you're doing.

Next week on the show I'll go into a little bit more detail about using high profile guests on your show to grow your audience. I have a podcast that is an interview series called You've Gotta Start Somewhere which is all interviews with high profile celebrities and it is really important when you have guests who have a significant social following that you are really respectful of that social following. So I'll be talking through a few things that you need to think about when you have high profile guests and how that isn't the fix all for getting an audience to come to your show.

At the end of the day, the responsibility for getting an audience is nobody is but yours so I'll talk a little bit about that in next week's episode.

Until then thank you so much for listening and happy podcasting.

1 Comment
  1. Ashiyana says:

    This is a great way to grow an audience.

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