As podcasters, most of the time, we dedicate so much of our effort to producing the episodes. What this results in is the lack of preparation for the actual marketing learning how to promote your podcast.
When I started my podcast, my only goal was to share the experiences of fellow human beings with other fellow human beings. And it was through this selfless act that I started my own podcast.
You may have started on the same foot as well.
But the problem with this is that you soon realize if you do not have a promotional strategy in place, then who you share your knowledge with will be extremely limited.
I know that many of us don’t really care about the number of listeners, so long as we are happy with what we put out. But wouldn’t it be great if we could spread our message to even more people?
As your podcast grows, you will want to make sure it is worth your time. This means that you will need to grow your audience over time. The more listeners you have, the more chances of having great guests on your show, and the more sponsors who can help you keep the show running.
Once you’ve realized this, then comes the dreaded question…
How do people even discover podcasts?
So, you then do your research and realize that there is one specific source where people discover podcasts. On your end as a podcaster, this means that there is NO ONE-SIZE-FITS ALL strategy for growing your audience.
Here is why: People discover podcasts in different ways and podcasters promote in different ways.
The Podcast Discovery Problem
According to the Podcast Discovery Survey conducted by The Podcast Host, most people discover new podcasts through simply browsing across specific categories that they find interesting and choose what to listen to from there. Other people randomly search other unfamiliar categories to discover new shows.
Because there are thousands of podcasts out there, it will be difficult to solely rely on the hope that people will be attracted to your show over others. There are only so many things you can do to stand out, right?
Not only that. The myriad of options you can choose from to promote your podcast can get overwhelming as well.
This is why I have written this article. Rather than running around like a headless chicken and figuring out all the ways to promote your podcast, I have outlined them all here to give you a head start.
Will I find the EXACT Solution?
I don’t want you to get your hopes up too much. Unfortunately, I’m not a genie and can’t magically give you followers.
Every podcast is different, and every audience is different too. This means that you need to discern which methods will work best for your podcast.
Ultimately, the purpose of this article is to guide you into crafting your own strategy without having to worry about the heavy research bit of the process, I’ve gladly done most of the research for you here.
So, sit back, relax, and let’s take a deep dive into all the tips and tricks on how to promote your podcast.
BEFORE YOU START PROMOTING YOUR PODCAST, REMEMBER THESE…
Utilize Your Current Audience
From my own experience, it does help to have an audience beforehand. And by audience, I don’t mean “fans” or “followers.” It doesn’t have to be people who spent money to buy any of your products or services.
Your audience can fall under the categories of Facebook friends (yes, family counts) or your current email list. Leverage on the people easily within your reach.
I make it a point to let my Facebook friends and email list know that I have a podcast so that if a certain episode piques their interest, they’d listen. So far, this method has been highly effective for me that I was able to get my first 100+ listeners organically. I didn’t spend on paid ads or pressure myself to promote my podcast to the entire world.
If you have yet to publish your first few episodes, it can get quite discouraging if you don’t have any engagement at the start. So, don’t hesitate to promote your podcast with your current network! It worked wonders for me and I’m sure it will for you too.
Create valuable content
Before you decide to promote anything, you need to make sure that you create valuable content.
Because marketing a bad product wouldn’t make sense at all. All the marketing effort in the world would not be able to sell a product that is not valuable, simply because no one will need that product.
The same goes for podcasts. Even if you spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on promoting your podcast, if it does not provide valuable content, then no one will want to listen.
Here are some quick tips to ensure that your content is valuable:
- Add a unique twist to the topic you have chosen – your podcast should stand out from others in the same industry. Yes, anyone can talk about a certain topic, but you have your own unique take on things. This is something you should capitalize on in your podcast to give people a new understanding of the topic you are talking about.
- Your podcast needs to be “sticky” – by sticky I mean that you need to capture the attention of your listeners all throughout the episode. If your listeners consume your content all the way to the end, then you know you’re doing things right. Try to study successful podcasts that are in the same industry as yours and see what you can apply to your own podcast to make it more interesting.
- Be the problem solver – just like any successful business, if you can bridge the gap between the customer and the solution to their problems, then people are sure to listen. Think about what it is that your potential listeners want to know more about and see how you can meet this criterion.
- Observe what’s trending in your niche – don’t focus on what’s trending in general, but rather explore what’s trending in your certain niche. This allows you to start a discussion on something that everyone else is talking about and gain more listeners from there.
So, remember that before you start putting all your resources out there to promote your content, focus first on creating valuable content for your listeners.
Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day
Once you have created highly valuable content, I want to remind you that it still won’t be an easy journey. Achieving success takes time, and that applies to your podcast as well.
It’s not that I’m purposefully raining on your parade, but you need to understand that it will take months (or years) before you start seeing life-changing results. The important thing is that you trust in the process and believe that you will experience success in your podcast with consistent effort.
All you need is the right content (which we have covered in the previous section) and the right channels to promote your podcast. It takes time to experiment and analyze which platforms and practices gain the best results, so let’s cover each of those next.
TOP TIPS ON HOW TO PROMOTE YOUR PODCAST
Release 3-5 Episodes When You Launch
Assuming you don’t have a podcast yet, one of the best practices to keep those listeners glued to your channel from day one is by uploading 3 or more episodes. 1 or 2 episodes will just keep them hanging, and they wouldn’t want to wait that long for another episode to get to know you more.
Having more than 3 episodes will give them a good idea on what your podcast is about and whether this is something they would want to invest their time into.
Even online business coach Pat Flynn recommends this.
According to Pat, “I once launched a podcast with a single episode and actually received negative reviews from people who had listened to the first episode and were upset that there was only one. When people love your stuff, they’re going to want more of it, so give them what they want”
I spoke about more tips before launching your podcast in my other article How to Start and Launch a Podcast to Build Your Brand.
Should You Limit Where You Upload Your Podcast?
With a myriad of podcast directories (or podcatchers if you want to sound cool) like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and a bunch more, you could end up having analysis paralysis.
I highly recommend you start with iTunes because it has the most listeners. But don’t limit yourself to just one podcatcher.
Why submit to as many as possible when you can just choose iTunes?
Well, each directory has different types of listeners so the more you submit to, the more exposure you can get.
Eventually, you will be able to see which podcatchers get you the most followers and know where to focus your efforts from there.
According to Podcast Insights, these are the top 5 best podcatchers to help you get the most exposure:
- iTunes / Apple Podcasts
- Google Podcasts
For my podcast clients, I’ve been using Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Amazon Music. The reason for this is because these platforms have a lot of listeners. If you have a budget for paid ads and these are successful, chances are that you will get more organic exposure in these major podcatchers. The more organic exposure you get, the higher the chances that people will encounter your podcast.
If you want to read more on how to submit your podcast to these directories through your RSS feed, check out my other article where I explain it all in detail.
Making the Most Out of iTunes
As I mentioned earlier, iTunes is the biggest podcatcher out there and so naturally, has the most listeners (70% of total podcast listeners to be exact). This means that you need to take extra care in making sure you get noticed on iTunes.
The best section to be seen on is the New & Noteworthy section, which is the first thing people see when they access Apple Podcasts.
Unfortunately, there is no simple solution to being featured in this section, but we do know that you have about two months to get there before you aren’t considered “new” anymore.
But no pressure. Here are some tips and tricks that give you a higher chance of landing a spot in the New & Noteworthy section:
- Build an audience before you launch – this can be done by building your email list for outreach, focusing your efforts heavily on announcing your launch day, letting your friends and family know about your podcast, and promoting via social media.
- Use attractive cover art for your podcast – make sure your podcast artwork clearly represents what your podcast is about, and this includes amazing visuals and copy that is understandable and visible even on small screens.
- Produce high-quality episodes – you don’t need to invest in expensive equipment or edit your podcast until it is absolutely flawless. A minimum viable edit should be good enough for your listeners to have a great experience. I talk more about minimum viable edits here.
- Focus on getting reviews – once you have built up an audience before and during the first few days of the launch, encourage them to subscribe and leave a review. This builds credibility and convinces other people to listen in as well.
- Publish consistently– this doesn’t mean that you must publish every single day or every single week. By consistency, I mean that your podcast must have a consistent schedule to keep up with. This can mean daily, weekly, monthly, or even annually! That way, your listeners will know when to expect the next episode.
How Important is a Website in Promoting Your Podcast?
Although having a website for your podcast isn’t an absolute necessity or requirement, it will really help create more exposure for your podcast. The reason why a website is key is because of its benefits in SEO.
There are some podcast hosts such as Buzzsprout and Podbean that help you build your own basic website, but for SEO purposes, that isn’t always enough. Your website needs to be optimized for better SEO.
The thing with the Google algorithm when detecting sites or content with good SEO is that it can only detect WRITTEN content. Since podcasts are purely audio, these are unfortunately overlooked by Google (though this could change in the near future).
Another good practice is to for your website is to include a trailer of your podcast and that it is updated with the most recent episodes.
It is going to take time and effort to build and maintain a website. In my opinion, if it will end up being a bottleneck for you at the start, this is something you can focus on later as your podcast grows.
If website development isn’t your forte, you can always hire a freelancer to do the work for you. In this article, I reveal my best practices in finding virtual team members to help you in your business.
Build Your Email List
Email marketing will take time and effort, but it allows you to build a personal connection with your audience outside of your podcast. Plus it is a great way to announce the release of new episodes for your avid listeners.
Not many podcasters put in the effort to do email marketing (I’m guilty of this), and so this method will go a long way to make you stand out among the rest.
To make matters even better, 73% of millennials say email is their preferred business communication platform, and it’s the preferred platform compared to post, social media, texting, or phone calls.”
I currently manage my own email list as well through ActiveCampaign. To be honest, I haven’t been emailing as frequently as I should, but I have experienced results regardless and will continue to utilize my email list as my podcast progresses.
If you want to know how you can build your own email list from scratch, I wrote a detailed guide about it HERE.
Cross-Promote on Different Platforms
The beauty of podcasts is that you can easily repurpose them on different platforms through various forms of content. Here are some examples:
- Create square audiograms that you can post on Instagram and Facebook (sample below)
- Create widescreen audiograms for YouTube
- Select quotes from the podcast and make an image for it (sample below)
- Transcribe the audio and post snippets of it on social media
- Post part of the audio in Instagram Story
What’s even better is that if you have the capacity to record your podcast through video first, then you have even more content to repurpose. Check out my video interview with Joshua Koerpel here for a glimpse of podcasts recorded via video.
Creating a variety of content will help you become more active with your social media promotions. Social media is an effective tool for you to build a personal connection with your audience, so the more content you can repurpose, the better.
Also, when promoting on social media, encourage a discussion among your listeners. Ask them for their opinions on a certain topic, or suggestions on what they want to hear about next in your podcast. This way, you don’t sound too spammy and it shows that you actually care about what your listeners think.
Customize Each Social Media Post
When posting on different platforms, I highly recommend that you customize each post. The reason for this is because each platform calls for a different type of “mood” for example:
- Facebook is for more casual, long-form content paired off with attractive images
- Instagram focuses more on the graphics and the captions should be shorter than Facebook
- Twitter has a character limit and so the content must be even shorter and straight to the point
- LinkedIn should have a more professional tone for both the copy and the images (I post memes on Facebook, but not on LinkedIn)
Your audience will be looking for different things on each platform, so take the time to create content that is relevant to the right people.
Promoting Your Podcast on YouTube
There are two ways by which you can post your podcast episode on YouTube. It can either be via an audiogram, or the actual video of you recording the podcast. The latter will require you to video yourself when you record, which some people aren’t really comfortable with. So, this is completely up to you on which route you want to take.
To convert your audio into video, you don’t need any complicated software. Simply choose a stock image or stock video online via Videvo, Unsplash, or Freepik. Once you’ve done that, overlay the audio to the image/video via free tools like iMovie for Mac and Movie Maker for Windows.
If you want slightly more advanced audiograms that include wavelengths, you can hire someone on Fiverr to create this for you.
If your episodes exceed 45 minutes, you can even cut the podcast down into short clips to make it easier to consume for your listeners too. That way, you can attract both those who like listening to long-form content and those who prefer short-form content.
Another reason why YouTube is such an effective platform is because it is virtually easy to share their content across other platforms like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter
Publish New Episodes at Strategic Times
It may be difficult at the start to know when the best time is to publish new episodes. One way to identify this is by looking at similar podcasts and when they publish. Is it on a Friday? Over the weekend? Monday?
If you notice a trend, that would be a good gauge for you to follow at the start until you have your own data. Over time, you can experiment and study your podcast analytics to see when people usually listen to your episodes and adjust from there.
Personally, I release a new episode every Friday (though not as consistent as I should). I chose this day of the week because my thinking is that people think of Friday as a day to relax. Since my podcast involves casual conversations rather than formal, objective ones, it would only make sense that people would want to listen when they’re happily unwinding after a long week.
Don’t Forget Your Call to Action
Just like any other sales page, a call to action on your podcast is a must as well. Even if you aren’t really selling anything, you want to make sure that your listeners take the necessary actions to support your podcast.
Some of you would probably think that asking your listeners to like, subscribe and review is selfish, but it’s not. It’s all about how you approach them about it.
Be sincere in your call to action and let them know that the more support you get, the better your episodes can be. And as you grow your podcast, the more sponsors you get and the higher your chances of getting great guests to appear on your show — better guests mean even better content for your listeners!
Here are some other things you can do to encourage them to take action:
- Shoutouts – Encourage your listeners to mention your podcast on social media and mention their name in your next episode. People would absolutely LOVE to hear their name mentioned!
- Q&A on Social Media – Asking your listeners on what they want to know more about on your podcast shows that you care about them and makes your content even more valuable.
- Giveaways – You can encourage your audience to recommend your podcast to their friends by doing giveaways. They can enter the giveaways by recommending your podcast to their friends and having them follow you. Your giveaway should not give away too much but must be valuable and connected to your topic. Consultations or freebies from your brand are great examples.
By leveraging on your current audience, you will create a snowball effect through word-of-mouth, which is a very effective way to promote your podcast.
Mention Your Previous Episodes
Once you have plenty of podcast episodes under your roster, always take the opportunity to mention your previous episodes when you can. This shouldn’t feel forced and you don’t have to do it all the time.
You can mention something along the lines of “I spoke about [topic] in further detail in my other episode on [episode title] so be sure to check it out.” If the listener enjoys your podcast, they’d be even more drawn to check out your other relevant episodes.
Be sure to link them to that episode in your show notes as well for easier navigation.
Build Your Network
Finding your audience should not be limited to social media and YouTube posts. Find out where your audience is hanging out and add value there. This can either be done through actual, physical places or virtual places online.
Checkout conferences, meetups, or local events in your area so you can meet people who may want to listen to your podcast. Be active in the community and spread the word about your podcast!
Virtually, there are several ways by which you can meet great connections online:
- Forums – search for forums on websites like Quora or Reddit where people actively talk about your topic and create a discussion there. If your podcast can answer some of their questions, then that would be a great way to subtly promote your podcast. But be mindful that you don’t want to sound too spammy or no one will notice you. Add value and show that you care about their concerns more than promoting yourself.
- Join interest groups – Take part in Facebook and Slack groups related to your topic. Your approach here must be the same as the previous point. You need to add value and be an active member of the group before you can promote your podcast. If you aren’t careful, you could be disbanded from these groups.
Network with Other Podcasters
Not only is networking a great way to build your audience. If you really want to immerse yourself in the podcasting world, meet other podcasters.
Put in the effort to find forums and interest groups for podcasters. This is a great way to stay on top of new trends, ideas and techniques.
Becoming friends with people in the industry can help you in so many ways. Building connections with other podcasters allows you to do cross-promotion (they mention you and you mention them) and exchange valuable ideas and tips you can’t get anywhere else.
And who knows? You may even find your next podcast guest here or even become a guest on other shows.
Become a Guest or Invite a Guest
By becoming a guest on other shows, not only does this build credibility but creates exposure for you as well. Focus on podcasts that are within your niche or complement your topic.
To further add value to your podcast, you can invite guests so they can give a unique perspective to the topic hand. Another great benefit of having a guest on your show is that this person can also promote this episode on his/her channels.
It could be a challenge at the start to book guests for your show especially if you don’t have a big audience yet. Just make sure your podcast resonates with them and is something that they would love to expound on.
My podcast is full of amazing guests living interesting lives. And how was I able to find them?
Believe it or not, I simply browsed through my Facebook friends list and looked for anyone I found interesting and invited them to have a conversation with me! It worked so well because the main purpose of my podcast was to have interesting conversations with interesting people and starting with my network was the perfect avenue to find these guests.
Don’t be pressured to invite well-known, famous experts. Most of the time, it’s the quality of the conversations that matter over the quality of the guests.
I recommend you schedule your recording session in advance because it involves both your time and theirs. And it also helps to establish a relationship with them beforehand to break the ice and make the conversation during the podcast more fluid and natural.
Contact People or Brands You Mentioned on Your Show
As you expound more on a certain topic, you may have to mention external sources like people or brands to support your claims. To make the most out of this, you can reach out to them to let them know that you highly recommended their brand (or product) to your listeners.
More often than not, they’d be thrilled to know that they were mentioned on your show.
You can pull out that certain quote about their product and ask them to share it on social media. If they agree, you get more exposure through their audience.
Take note however, that this does not work all the time, and will only work if whatever you said was positive.
Recommend them and they might just recommend you back!
Conduct an Audience Survey
For those who already have an established audience, conducting a survey is one of the best ways to get valuable insights to help grow your podcast.
Asking your listeners questions like where they found out about you or which podcatcher do they use the most will help you identify where to place your efforts moving forward.
You can also ask for suggestions on what topics you should discuss moving forward based on what they want to know. It wouldn’t hurt to get some guest recommendations as well.
There is so much you can take away from an audience survey.
Utilize Influencer Marketing
Do your own research on relevant influencers who are within your reach and ask if they can promote your podcast in exchange for things like a shoutout, free products, or monetary compensation.
When influencers recommend something, their audience usually trusts their judgment because of an established relationship these influencers have created through their content. So, if you find the right influencer that has the audience you need, then this type of marketing is going to help you grow your audience significantly.
If you have the budget, paid ads are a fool-proof way to grow your audience. Through utilizing channels like Facebook Ads and Google Ads, you will be able to target your ads to those who are interested in your niche.
You can either direct the ads to your podcast landing page, or to an individual episode. I recommend the latter because targeting is more specific, and thus, cheaper.
As I mentioned earlier, I grew my audience organically, so I never found the need to use paid ads. However, based on what I have observed with podcasters using paid ads is that they focus more on their budget and reach to promote episodes starring prominent guests.
By leveraging well-known guests, people are more likely to click and listen to your episode. It’s a great way to attract new listeners to your show, who might end up checking out your other episodes from there.
It’s all about being strategic with your paid ads and knowing where to allocate your budget.
Finding the perfect system to promote your podcast takes patience and a good foundation. There really is no perfect solution to this because each podcast has its own unique needs. It will take some experimentation and good judgment from your end, but once you do it right, it will all be worth it.
So, to recall, remember that it all starts with creating valuable content that people will WANT to listen to. It is highly crucial that you track and measure your results so that you will know how to adjust accordingly.
Once you have identified the methods that work for you, focus your energy there to gain maximum results.
All the tips that I have mentioned do not fall under a checklist wherein you have to do each and everything. It’s up to you to identify which approaches you are most comfortable with and build from there.
Don’t pressure yourself too much and if you feel like one method isn’t effective, then move on to the next!
Best of luck.