Podcasts are one of the quickest growing forms of media and they have become part of our daily lives. No matter where you’re located, episodes can be downloaded and listened to at any time.
According to a research study from April 2020, there are over 1 million different podcasts and more than 30 million episodes. Many of these podcasts fall under the category of business, culture, news and politics, comedy, or health. These popular genres break down even further into specific niches with dedicated listeners tuning in each week. So how on earth do you grow your podcast in the midst of all this competition?
Simply stated, word-of-mouth from a loyal fan base is how your podcast will take off. It sounds easy, but it takes a lot of effort and dedication to reach that point.
You’ll Need “The Basics”
Your podcast will have to actually exist before you can put any effort into growing it. We hope you have already chosen an awesome topic, a captivating name, and an entertaining host for the show.
To start a podcast you’ll need some basic recording gear, a quiet space to record, and strong brand identity (an attractive website, social media profiles, an RSS feed, and several published episodes).
Now, let’s take the foundation you’ve already started with and combine it with the following tips to develop a bullet-proof growth strategy for your podcast.
1. Focus on Your Niche Audience
It’s likely that your podcast falls under the category of a specific niche – sometimes very specific. Hopefully, you’ve done the research, have a strong interest in your topic, or can offer valuable expertise that will entertain your listeners. Without proficient knowledge of your niche, you will have a difficult time becoming an authoritative voice.
Like all creative work, brainstorming is a key ingredient. Spend time listening to other podcasts in your niche to find out what concepts lack proper representation. If you find out that you don’t know enough about the concept, have an industry expert on the show as a guest. It’s important to have endless ideas for different episodes that revolve around your podcast’s main topic.
Understand Your Audience
Who are they? What do they like? How do they spend their time? How do they spend their money? Where do they live? How old are they? These are all important questions to ask yourself as you work to connect yourself to a dedicated audience.
It’s vital that you spend time to learn everything you can about the audience you want to reach. As your show grows, your audience might change. You need to assure yourself that each episode is relevant and noteworthy. Try creating different personas that represent your listeners and constantly consider if your topics would appeal to their ever-changing interests.
2. Engage Your Listeners
Excited listeners will keep coming back. You need to tell unforgettable stories, show a great sense of humor, and entertain your listeners if you want to make your podcast irresistible. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
It’s a good idea to provide a Q&A section towards the end of your show. This will strengthen your relationship with the listeners and help you gain a better understanding of what their needs, wants, and expectations are.
Subscribe, Rate, and Review
Part of your engagement strategy should emphasize subscriptions, ratings, and reviews. Listeners who subscribe to your podcast are your most valuable audience and one of the clearest indicators of your growth.
Excellent ratings and 5-star reviews will help you rank higher in the sections and libraries for your podcast’s niche. They will also give you the opportunity to respond to reviews and read unfiltered opinions that will only help you make improvements.
Social Media Strategy
Strive for a comprehensive social media strategy to share episodes, tag appropriately, and respond to messages and discussions. Mainstream platforms like Facebook and Twitter work great, but take the extra step to engage your audience on the social media platform that they spend time on. Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok give you the opportunity to get personal and creatively communicate with your fans.
SEO and Blogging
Having an active blog that is relevant to your niche will help you grow your podcast and establish more authority on the topics you discuss on your show. A well-thought SEO strategy will help you better position your website’s articles and episodes on popular search engines.
Although painful to do, adding a transcription of each episode and relevant keywords with links to your show notes will also help your website’s SEO on Google and other search engines.
3. Own Your Brand & Let It Shine
Treat your podcast as a business and continually build your brand. Consider creating additional content to share with your audience. Behind-the-scenes photos of your podcasting process will give your fans a glimpse into your creative process. Make trailer videos to promote across social media and consider video recording each episode in-full to have an upload for your YouTube channel. Creating and promoting unique content will help you differentiate yourself from the competition.
As your audience grows, consider making some merchandise to sell. Well designed t-shirts, hats, and stickers will provide extra revenue for your podcast and will help your efforts of building loyalty and word-of-mouth awareness.
4. Work with Guests
Depending on the nature of your podcast, guest interviews can be a great addition. Friends, industry experts, and influencers will spice up an episode with their stories, opinions, and discussions. Even consider cross-promoting with other podcasters in your niche. If they aren’t a direct competitor, bring them on as a guest and help connect the dots between your niche by letting them do an episode on something that falls within their expertise.
Make it easy for your guests to share the episode with their online audience by providing press kits so they can post across their social media. Having a press kit will help keep your brand’s integrity as your content is shared across the web.
5. Find Sponsors and Affiliates
As your podcast grows, your audience will grow with it. This presents a valuable opportunity to offer advertising space. Some companies will seek you out directly, but it’s wiser for you to find several brands that appeal to your audience. Make a list of prospects and reach out with a pitch for the advertising space. However, don’t be desperate when looking for a sponsor. You need to make sure that your ads convey something of value to your listeners.
Podcasters that are looking to monetize their growing show can earn additional income and reach a larger audience through affiliate marketing. Commissions are earned by promoting a product, service, or website within your podcast. Similar to sponsorship, you will have to reach out to brands that fit your niche and create an agreement that represents their products or services.
After that, you’ll need to provide tracking codes or affiliate links in your show notes to attribute the click or conversion back to your podcast. This is attractive to podcasters because there is no cost – only a reward. You will receive a commission for referring traffic and sales to your affiliate’s online shop.
6. Track Your Growth
Without data, it’s impossible to gauge your growth. Platforms like Podtrac, Blurbrry, Castos, and Anchor will give you detailed insights. For example, you’ll be able to see your listener count, listener growth, episode downloads, email subscriptions, online sales, and more when using one of these platforms.
Different metrics will have different levels of importance. It’s helpful to define several “success factors” to regularly monitor. You’ll have a hard time hitting your targets if they don’t exist. Routinely monitor your success factors to understand how your podcast is growing. Apply the insights to your advantage. For instance, if one episode had lots of downloads, consider making another one in the same format. Tracking your statistics will give you the power to make informed decisions for growth in the right direction.
7. Improve your Quality
As your podcast grows, you’ll want to grow with it. It’s important to produce the highest quality show that you can. As revenue starts to pour in and your listeners grow, consider upgrading your microphones, purchasing a studio booth, making a new website, or investing in video production gear.
There’s a lot you can do to refresh your brand and improve the caliber of your podcast.
Finally, whether your podcast is a hobby, a dream job, or your current full-time occupation, there are many ways to grow your show. You’ll grow your podcast by staying consistent, productive, and entertaining.