Everyone wants to launch with a bang and kick their podcast off with a great start. And you can with just a little bit of planning and being intentional about how you structure the launch of your show.
We like to follow a pretty specific formula for launching that all but ensures that your podcast will get off to a great start.
Here are the steps that we like to follow for a successful podcast launch:
Build the hype
Launch with great content
Have a consistent call to action
Engage your core tribe
Let’s break these down individually:
1. Build the Hype
You’ve worked so hard to get your podcast all put together and ready for the world...don’t let it just flop out there without some buzz around the launch.
If you come from any kind of business/marketing/product background you know the importance of building the hype for any new launch, and your podcast is no different. Getting your community excited about your new podcast is essential in them taking the action that you will need in order to have a successful launch.
We have seen a few great ways to accomplish this buzz around the launch of your show:
- A competition - if you have a product or service that you can give away to those interested in your show this is a great way to build a core group of people that you know are going to be interested in your podcast. Run a contest for a single entrant to win a call with you, one of your products, or something of high value, and in that contest you will then have a strong group of people that you can announce the launch of your show to. This works great whether you have an email list to market to already or not.
- Exclusive prelaunch content - many people like to “leak” out either a complete episode or parts of the first episode to their community in advance of the show going live. How this would best work with your content and your audience are up to you, but a few things we’ve seen are:
- Exclusive content to existing members only
- Exclusive content only to people who sign up for a particular newsletter/campaign in your marketing platform
- Exclusive content just shared on social media or membership channels
Being intentional about the launch of your show with a bit of work ahead of time and engaging your audience will go a long way on launch day when it’s time for you to tell them all about the new show. Then they’ll already be connected with what you’re doing and ready to subscribe to your podcast.
2. Launch with great content
When you’re thinking through the ‘What’ of your podcast launch the natural question is “what content or guests should i include in my launch episodes”?
This is a great question and means that you’re already one step ahead of the game. When it comes to planning your podcast launch content there are a few rules of thumb that we really like to consider:
- Surround your topic: if you’re running a solo or co-host type of show then you should plan the content of your launch to encompass the main topic of you show. Practically this means taking different perspectives of the main topic that you’re discussing. If you have an interview style show then this means having on different types of guests and different topics around your main theme that you’ll discuss with those guests.
- Launch with a few episodes - A few things to consider here:
- Episode 0 is a really common way of introducing your show to your audience and can even be a really fun teaser episode to leak out to a subset of your community ahead of the launch. These episodes are short, less than 10 minutes in length typically, and are a great way to let your audience know what they can expect from your show in the future
- Launch day: Episodes 1 and 2 - these are some of the best content you can create. We like to publish 2 episodes on the first day to both give your audience a bit of variety around the topic that you’re going to be discussing (see the point above) but also to pad those download statistics a bit for iTunes. Plan to have some of your best guests, topics, and discussions here in these first episodes...there’s no 2nd chance to make a 1st impression.
- Bonus launch week episode - this one is optional but i really like giving your audience a one-time bonus episode on launch week. Here you can really drop some great content, have a powerhouse guest, or whatever would be the huge piece of content you want to release during the launch phase. This is the time. And let your audience know. “Hey guys this is a special launch week bonus episode...today I have on Seth Godin and he’s going to be talking about marketing”.
- Connect with your audience wherever you already connect with them. Are you big on Instagram, then promote your show on Instagram. Have an active Facebook group (if you don’t, you should...they’re excellent!), then connect with your audience on your Facebook group. Have a big, engaged email list...then email your audience about your podcast.
3. Have a Consistent, Strong Call To Action
When you’re talking with your audience and new listeners you want to be very consistent about the Call To Action that you are using. Having a single, easy to follow set of guidance for your listeners is the key to getting the success that you want out of your podcast launch.
And for most of us this will be to Subscribe and leave a Rating and Review for your new show in iTunes. This achieves two things:
A subscriber to the show will automatically get every new podcast episode you publish downloaded to their mobile phone. These are guaranteed ‘listens’ in your stats and are the basis of your audience. Subscribers are those audience members that are on ‘autopilot’.
B. Leave a Rating and Review
This is the Social Proof aspect of your show and is vitally important not only in the iTunes ranking algorithm but also in discovery of your podcast by potential new listeners. Imagine seeing a podcast in iTunes with 2 reviews, and one with 258 reviews. Which one are you more likely to check out? Yep, me too...the one with the most 5-star reviews.
That’s why if you can push as many of your subscribers and audience members to leaving a Rating and Review for your show you’ll get new listeners finding your content in iTunes organically.
4. Engage Your Core Tribe
Once your show is live and you start building that audience it’s time to supercharge that audience into a community, or a TRIBE. These are not just regular podcast listeners but they are super dedicated, passionate members of your world that interact with you (and your other community members) and continue the discussion that you start on each podcast episode.
Practically for most people this takes the form of a Facebook group. Love it or hate it Facebook is a place that most of the WORLD spends their time, and makes the adoption of your community super easy for your community members.
The beauty of Facebook groups is that they allow you (and other group members) to continue the discussion of your podcast in between episodes. So no longer is it just you talking into the microphone and them (hopefully) listening, but it’s you talking, them listening, and then after the episode is over you having a 2-way (or really multi-way) discussion about it with everyone else in the community.
Once these groups get some traction and activity as well they start to take a life of their own and become self-fulfilling entities. You’ll find that there are natural conversation leaders in the group, people who will moderate for you and make sure that everyone is behaving, and those who generally keep the conversations lively and helpful.
If you don’t have a Facebook group for your community now then today is the day to start one. Make this part of your ongoing marketing and community involvement and you’ll be thanking me in a few months when this becomes one of the best ways that you can connect with your audience.
5. Publish Consistently
Of all the aspects of building and growing a podcast that are talked about this one is probably the least discussed. Publishing consistently, on the schedule that you told your audience you would be publishing on, is absolutely critical to growing your audience over time.
You might not realize it (although if you had a thriving Facebook group you probably would) but there are many people out there who set their daily routine based on your podcast. Plenty of listeners know that on Wednesday mornings when they’re going to for a run you’ll be joining them in their earbuds. And those weekend trips to the in-laws are more manageable with the podcast you put out on Friday.
But, if you miss your regular publishing schedule your audience will know...and they’ll move on to another show!
Podcasting is a zero sum game when it comes down to it. Most of our audience only has a given amount of time each week to listen to all of their podcast content. Whether that’s commuting to work, exercising, walking the dog, or avoiding meetings at work there’s a finite (and usually fixed) amount of time that podcasting fits into their regular routine. If you want to grab some of your audience members time and attention then you have to be there every week, dependably, or they’ll move on to another show.
There are a few of great suggestions when it comes to publishing your content on a regular basis:
- Have backup episodes already done ahead of time: If you have interviews or episodes already recorded that are “evergreen” (meaning they won’t go out of style or date) then keep one or two of those around for the rainy day when your schedule gets in the way or a guest cancels on you. It’ll come in handy, believe me.
- Record more than a week ahead of time: Similarly if you structure your release schedule to be at least a week ahead in your recordings then you’ll always have that one extra episode, and if something should come up at least you’d have an extra week to figure things out.
- Republish other content: If it comes down to it you could always extract the audio from a presentation you gave, a YouTube video you created, or a Facebook live event. This is a nice change in pace for your listeners and just might expose them to another part of your content that they wouldn’t have seen otherwise if they were just listening to your podcasts.
Doing any (or all) of these will all-but-guarantee that your podcast will go out on schedule, every time. And this will not only gain you enormous trust and respect from your listeners, but many more of them as well.
Now, Let’s Get Started
We’ve covered a lot in this guide, but hope that it is helpful to you and your podcasting journey. When it comes down to it podcasting is like a lot of other types of content...you have to first just GET STARTED, and then learn as you go. Getting feedback from your audience on what they like and don’t like is the only way that you’ll create a truly sustainable podcast for you and your brand.
As you begin your podcasting journey in earnest you’ll quickly find why it’s all the rage and why so many content creators love the authenticity and connection that it creates with their audiences. There’s just something about literally being in someone’s earbuds each week as they listen to your show for them to form that strong bond with you, and in turn you form that strong connection with them.
So go out and get started your podcast launch preparation today. In no time you’ll be sharing your voice with your audience.
Guest Post by: Craig Hewitt
Craig Hewitt has been podcasting for more than 4 years and has over 200 episodes published to date. He is also the founder of Castos podcast hosting and analytics, which provides easy to use and powerful podcasting solutions to podcasters of all levels. Their goal at Castos is to make podcasting simple and accessible to all so they can share their voice with the world.
You can find him: @TheCraigHewitt