PodSchool Podcast | How can you grow your podcast audience?




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How to grow your podcast audience

How to get your show into more people’s ears….

WARNING: It’s not easy

Welcome to everyone’s favourite topic when they’ve got listeners and everyone’s least favourite topic when they’re podcasting to no one but their mum.

Bringing more listeners into your show is the mountain we all have to climb and unfortunately, there’s not one single path to the summit (so please be wary of anyone who tells you there is…particularly if they just happen to be selling a course at the same time).

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There’s plenty of things you can do to put your podcast in a good position for success BUT even if you’re doing them all with aplomb, it’s still no guarantee you’ll be flooded with listeners.

Since it’s every person’s individual choice whether they listen to your content and a matter of taste when it comes to whether they like it, all you can do is create the best show possible, push it out to as many different places as you can and then cross your fingers and do it all again next episode.

So how do you control your 50% of the podcaster/podcastee relationship and set your show up for success?

Make sure your podcast is as kick-arse as it can be

This seems simple enough but to attract (and retain) an audience you really need a show that doesn’t sound like sh*t.

It’s very difficult when you’ve poured your heart and soul into something, to look at it critically but it’s important that you do.

I often suggest people give their podcasts to their friends but that’s difficult if you don’t have friends who’ll give you honest feedback.  I get it!  Everyone wants to be nice, but nice isn’t always helpful when you’re trying to give your show the best chance of survival.  I have plenty of critical friends at my disposal because I work in media and we’re all used to giving that kind of feedback, so if you have someone in your life like that, great!  If not, you need to be your own judge and jury and that means listening back to each episode and being honest with yourself about whether or not it’s up to scratch.

If you don’t have anyone in your life with the balls to tell you your show sucks you’ve got to grow a pair and be that person.

If you’re just starting out then you have to understand you won’t be shipping out the audio gold straight away, and that’s where recording your episodes comes in handy.  If you think your show needs more work then get into the habit of recording weekly but don’t release the show until you think it’s ready.  Alternatively, if the show is 80% there but needs some fine tuning, make the most of your ability to edit.  Cut any unnecessary fluff, remembering that less is always more for your podcast audience.

Planning your content will also help you cut out the waffle when you turn on the microphone and don’t forget to package your content up as professionally as possible with, at the very least, a professional intro and outro.

Share your show on social media

This is also a bit of a no-brainer but using hashtags when you share your show can help get it in front of an audience who’s interested in your subject matter but isn’t aware of you personally.  This is particularly useful if your podcast is in a specific niche that people might be searching for information about, so do some research on what hashtags people are using in your area and add those to your social posts.

Get everyone you know to listen, review and rate it

Let’s say it together “there’s no shame in asking your friends to listen to your show.”  I’ve just done it recently for my podcast and while it can feel a little uncomfy if you’re not someone who likes asking for favours, there’s nothing wrong with sending a blanket email to your nearest and dearest saying “Please listen to my new podcast and leave a review to help me build my audience.”

That early momentum when you haven’t found an audience yet can help you get a few early runs on the board by keeping you in the iTunes charts, knocking your show into New & Noteworthy and keeping it top of mind in iTunes algorithm.

Sometimes you can feel like a sleezy sales chump but your mates will want to support you and it does help since reviews and rating can be just as important as downloads.

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 thinking seriously about your ability to commit before you start podcasting and then sticking to that commitment.

If you are absolutely slammed without a moment to spare in your life then be realistic about whether you can handle starting a podcast.  The truth is, it’s not something you can throw together in half an hour so it’s better to sit down to it when you know you have the time to dedicate to the project.

The podcasting train isn’t going to race off and leave you behind forever but once you start you have to keep going if you want your show to get traction so that might mean you need to get a few things off your plate before you press publish.  And that’s ok.

I started recording episodes for my podcast, You’ve Gotta Start Somewhere, in September of 2016 but didn’t release my first episode until March 2017 because I knew I had too much on my plate to be able to get an episode out every week.  However, when I did start releasing I already had 10 weeks of episodes recorded and ready to go which gave me a good buffer of time to focus on the work I needed to do to get it out into the ether.

Often you can be afriad you’re going to miss the boat but it’s so much better to start when you’re ready than to have a bunch of false starts that never amount to anything.  Use that time to come up with a solid plan that you know you can stick to or, casually start recording episodes so when it comes time to release your first one you’ve got plenty in the can.

Communicate with your audience via Facebook pages and forums

A lot of people suggest doing this like it’s the holy grail of building an audience.  In my experience it can be useful, but it takes a long time to cultivate relationships with people online and it’s not going to result in hundreds of thousands of listeners rolling into your show.

Since I first started looking I found some great Facebook pages where people genuinely need assistance starting a podcast.  I’m not dipping into these pages every day, because I don’t have time, but if a question pops up in my feed and I can help, I will.  The real value I find is that these communities are a great source of content ideas. Following Facebook pages where your potential audience is asking questions about your topic area can help you find out what your audience wants to know, and that is invaluable.

The important thing to remember is that becoming an authority within these online communities takes time.  You can’t be the chump who jumps onto a Facebook page and starts posting links to their podcast from day one or you’ll be kicked out pretty quickly.  It’s also important that you’re across the rules for the page because some groups don’t allow any spruiking at all.  Do it right, however and those kinds of forums can help you build relationships, find new content and maybe even, a new audience.

Transcribe your episodes

You might have noticed some podcasts have a transcript of the episode on their show notes pages.  If you’ve ever wondered “is anyone reading this crap?” the answer is “probably not.”

While it looks like a lovely service that’s there for people who prefer to read, rather than listen, the truth is that it’s all for SEO.  Transcribing your episode means all those important keywords that search engines plow through when people are Googling content in your area, can be traced.  If podcasters just leave those important words in their MP3’s, then search engines will never find them.

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 will do all the hard work for you…



Bring on high-profile guests

Naturally getting high profile guests on your show with a large social following can be a good way to grow an audience but the truth is you can’t rely on that to bring in the crowds and you also can’t get angry if someone won’t tweet your show.  At the end of the day, it’s their Twitter feed and they can do whatever they want with it.  Sometimes, even if you ask, they won’t share it and if that’s the case you have to be fine with that because it’s not their content, so they’re never going to be as passionate about it as you are.

You’d also be surprised to find out just how little impact this has on its own so again, it’s important to think of this as part of the mix of things you need to do to build an audience but it’s definitely not a silver bullet.

Be creative with show promotion

Think outside the box when it comes to promoting your show.  For my podcast, You’ve Gotta Start Somewhere, I create seven promos a week to share each day on social media.

These little snippets of the show give people a chance to sample what they’ll hear without having to committ to an entire episode.  It’s a great way to create interest in your show in a more engaging way than just tweeting “listen to my new podcast.”  You have to entice people to listen and if they can try before they subscribe that might be just what they need to get them over the line.

So there are some ways to bring in more listeners to your show.  The most important thing to remember is that building an audience is 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.

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 and why it isn’t the fix all for getting an audience to come to your show.

Need some help getting started?  Download my podcasting guide.

Got a burning question you’d like answered in the podcast? Send me an email.


1 Comment
  1. Ashiyana says:

    This is a great way to grow an audience.

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