If you listen to podcasts or are a podcaster yourself it should be no surprise that podcasting is experiencing a tremendous up-swing in popularity. While podcasting is not a new medium it has grown significantly in the last few years. In fact, it seems like every week some new celebrity, influencer or well-known figure is hopping on the podcasting bandwagon.
Why? Well, it’s effective. It’s simple. It’s easy.
Podcasting requires little investment or knowhow yet gives you the opportunity to get your voice and your message in front of millions of people around the world. This means that the social media guru, Oscar-winning actor and the average Joe all have the same opportunity to be heard and received by the world. This is what makes podcasting unique from other broadcast and media platforms. There’s no requirement to have a big production budget, a specialized team or an experienced spokesperson to front the show. While podcasts can certainly be highly produced (AKA expensive), they can also be a one-person operation. And while the simplicity and approachable-ness (that’s a word, right?) of podcasting draws people in by the droves, the truth is not every podcast ends up being successful.
Now, success may be a very subjective concept podcast to podcast, but every podcaster wants to be successful and most would measure their success based on the number of listeners they gain and how broad their influence becomes. While one podcaster may be thrilled with 200 or 2,000 downloads per episode, others shoot for the stars. Some may look to have 200,000 or maybe 2,000,000 per episode. Whatever the goal you have in mind, the question becomes how do you get your message out? How do people learn about your podcast?
Simply put, the question at hand is: How do you gain more listeners? This is a common question to our team at Resonate Recordings because we work with hundreds of podcasters. While we partner with brand-new podcasters as well as career podcasters, the question always comes up about how to gain an audience. Well there are a number of strategies that have had proven success, but here are a few we have found to be most helpful and therefore are the foundation for the advice we give to all of our partners, regardless of their experience level. They are incredibly simple yet can be mind-boggling-ly (also a word) effective in helping podcasters gain more listeners.
Be your own best cheerleader
It goes without saying that no one else will be more passionate about your podcast than youwill be. If you find the opposite to be true, you may want to get out while you’re ahead. The truth is nobody will be as excited about your message and your content as you, but rest assured you cangenerate excitement about your podcast in others. Your content and your influence can be incredibly contagious.
So how does this happen? First, you have to ask if people even know you’re podcasting. It may seem elementary, but if you aren’t letting people know what you’re doing, how will they know to tune in? If you’re not being your own cheerleader you can’t expect others to catch the fever. If you aren’t actively talking about and promoting your podcast, why would others? Like the cheerleader whose one goal is to light a fire and get others excited about the team, to stand up on their feet and scream at the top of their lungs, you also have to light the fire and get others excited about your podcast. You have to be actively promoting it and letting others know about it. I’ve told more than one podcaster that simply pushing your episodes out on to iTunes is not an effective strategy. Pressing submit and seeing what happens won’t work. You have to find ways to effectively promote your podcast and get the word out that you are here with a message that others needto hear. So how do you do this?
● Reach out to your friends and family to let them know about your podcast
● Saturate your social media threads with information about your podcast
● Send out an email blast to your network with a short note about the podcast and why you’re taking the leap into podcasting
● Post your trailer or pilot episode on your social accounts to get people hyped about your podcast
● Look for ways to promote engaging content by using audiograms or video previews of your episodes
The truth is, just being honest and coming right out and asking people to check out your podcast is more effective than you might think. If you believe your content is worth listening to (and that people will keep coming back for more), the only real hurdle is getting people to tune in that first time. So just ask. But don’t stop there. More than anything, gaining ratings and reviews does wonders for your podcast as others who don’t know anything about you will likely be doing some digging before they decide to commit, so the end goal in all of your strategies here needs to be to ask people to give you some love on their listening directory of choice by leaving a review or rating.
Be a cross-promotion guru
Another strategy that will help you gain additional listeners is building out the concept of being a cheerleader by asking othersto become your cheerleader as well. Sure, reaching your own circle of influence is fantastic, but why throw in the flag there? Now I’m not really implying that you asking Great Aunt Margret or your second cousin once-removed is terribly effective, but rather people who will really help you get the word out. By asking others to be your cheerleader (especially those who are influential or well-connected), you have the opportunity to get your name out in front of others that otherwise may take weeks, months or years to reach on your own. Identify some others in your own network who would be a good fit to approach about giving you a shoutout. Find others in the same genre who you may be able to strategize with to get their listeners on board (they’re already invested in that style of podcast anyways, right?). Think of another podcast you really like yourself that you might be able to reach out to for some PR help. But you have to have a plan:
● Create a commercial or promo piece to send to people to inform them about your podcast
● Ask them to run your promo in their show in exchange for something beneficial to them
● Offer to cross-promote their podcast in return for mentioning you or playing your promo
Begin to build relationships with others who can help your podcast succeed. While podcasting is growing quickly, in many ways it still has a very grassroots feel with podcasters who were given a hand-up themselves and who are looking to do the same. The goal here is to work smarter, not harder. If you can find ways to get your name out in front of hundreds, thousands or hundreds of thousands of new potential listeners with one simple move, it’s a no-brainer.
Be strategic with your guests
A third concept that will put you on the path towards gaining additional listeners is being strategic with your guests. Your podcast has a general theme and your episodes likely tackle specific questions, topics or talking points. So the goal here is not to call an audible on all that simply to launch a hail Mary on a guest who you think will help you get all the listeners you can imagine. That being said you can (and should) be strategic with your guests to find one (or several) key players who can help you get your podcast some more exposure. Think through who you could invite onto your podcast who is an expert in your genre or topic that listeners would be excited to tune in for. Identify someone who may be well-connected themselves who may bring some of their fanboys along with them. Figure out what other well-known podcasters may be a good fit for an upcoming topic to see if they’d be open to coming on to talk with you. The key in all of these, again, is not only hyping your high-profile guest to your own listeners to build excitement, but also finding ways to use theirexposure to youradvantage. Simple things like tagging them on your socials, promoting them on your pages and asking them to do the same for you can have a massive impact in getting you additional interested listeners.
Be a cross-medium influencer
Yet another idea that will prove successful in attracting more listeners is becoming a cross-medium influencer. Building off of the concept of transmedia storytelling and its success in recent years, means that you see your story, your message or your influence not being limited to just your podcast. The greatest and most successful podcasters are not isolating their story, their brand and their influence to just podcasts. So what does this mean exactly? Well, being active on social media, yes, but it’s more than that. Find ways to take your content and your message to other platforms or mediums that will point back to your podcast:
● Start (or continue) a blog that pairs with the content in your podcast
● Push out video content or video adaptations of your podcast to YouTube and other mediums
● Create courses or other paired resources that help draw people in to the podcast
● Start holding live events or speaking tours for your listeners to gain more attraction
The point is, don’t see your role simply as a podcasterbut look for ways that you can gain exposure and influence in additional realms and platforms that will help build your podcast following. Many popular and successful podcasters have done just this. Now granted they may have had some deal of success elsewhere prior to podcasting, but the principle is still the same. If you are active on many fronts then you will be able to draw in additional followers from many pools along the way to the top.
I realize that this is not an exhaustive list. There are no doubt other concepts that could be equally (or more) effective in helping you gain listeners for your podcast. But these are simple, proven ideas that work. Podcasters who are fresh into the game and podcasters who have been doing this for a while will both find value and impact by doing these simple things. Maybe your goal is not to become the next New & Noteworthy leader or a Top 200 contender. That’s fine. I bet you’re still looking to have people tune in to your podcast and are looking for ways to get it done. My suspicion is that if you try these simple strategies you will have success. If you’re looking for direction with other ideas that are helpful for marketing your podcast, improving your SEO or maybe even looking to monetize your podcast, we’ve got you covered.
If you want to talk to our team to pick our brains on another podcast-related idea, we’d love to hear from you. Feel free to check out our site, drop us an email or set up a call with a team member.
Jon Street is the Production Manager at Resonate Recordings.
He is a creative soul, musician and health enthusiast who enjoys listening to and playing music and getting tattooed. Originally from the Steel City of Pittsburgh, PA, Jon is a die-hard Pittsburgh sports fan and shoe aficionado.