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How to grow your podcast audience

If you search the phrase "ways to increase your podcast audience" on Google, you'll find yourself in a sea of articles suggesting anywhere from 11 to 199 different tactics for boosting a fresh podcast. 😲

Oftentimes, the ones sifting through these resources will be self-sufficient podcasters handling their own writing, recording, editing, and podcast promotions.

We're aware that launching and scaling a podcast brings with it a lot of tasks and responsibilities, and we understand that your time is precious. In this piece, we'll share three effective methods to boost your podcast that are mindful of both your time and budget.

Prior to Getting Started ...

One might assume we're rushing things by discussing promotion before the importance of high-quality episode creation.

However, audience feedback has consistently shown us that they value content above all else. While promoting a show is key, if the end product isn't solid, it's pointless.

To ensure you're on the right track with your podcasting basics, here are some must-reads:

  • If you haven’t done so already, have a look at our guide on How to Start a Podcast. It provides you with information about equipment, editing, and other essentials for a successful podcast. If you think you’re not quite ready for promotion, we recommend checking this guide out and returning here later.
  • Spend nine minutes going through Nick Hilton’s Podcast Viability Checklist. This checklist, which covers hosting, production, and everything in between, is useful for both new and experienced podcasters who are experiencing stagnant audience growth.
  • For podcasters who may want to improve their existing show, Evo Terra discusses the Easy Way to Make a Great Podcast. Evo illustrates how creating a high-quality podcast should be simple by placing tasks on a 2×2 grid of quality versus effort.

Take into Account Your Mindset

When chatting with independent podcasters, the matter of mindset regularly surfaces.

Why is your mindset crucial? 🤔

Because it steers your attitude, and in turn, your attitude directly affects the quantity and quality of work you produce.

Some podcasters are daunted by the plethora of tasks involved in expanding a podcast.

Here are two strategies to circumvent this:

1. Define a goal for your podcast 🏆

A numerical goal provides you with a tangible target.

Start by defining what growth means for you. Is it more downloads, more social media followers, etc.? Then, make it more specific by assigning actual numbers to your goals.

For example: if your aim is to attract more listeners, make it more precise by adding specifics to it. Answer these queries:

  • How many listeners do I currently have?
  • How many listeners do I want to attract?
  • What is the timeframe to achieve this goal?

2. Reserve time for work 🕑

Understanding how much time you have to work on your show is the first step before you can block time off on your calendar.

Begin by estimating how much time you can actually devote to your podcast. After that, allocate time specifically for tasks related to promoting and growing your show.

Step 1 – Organize Your Week

Your week comprises of routine tasks such as eating, sleeping, exercising, etc. Begin by sorting out what makes up your week. Ponder about a typical day and its components. If you're juggling a job alongside podcasting, remember to include the time spent on that!

For

routine tasks that are relevant to most of us, here are some recurrent podcasting activities to consider.

Step 2 – Utilize a Free Time-Tracking Tool

Toggl is an excellent (and complimentary) tool for measuring time. Once you register, you can record the time spent on podcasting activities on Toggl by creating a new project called Podcasting.

You can then track the time dedicated to various podcasting sub-categories on the main page. If you forget to track time while performing the task, you can also retroactively input time using the manual mode.

How much time should you dedicate to promotion?

We consulted several solo indie podcasters who function as one-person podcasting squads. They kindly participated in the above exercise and calculated the weekly hours they invest in podcasting.

(Thank you, Alexandra Cohl of "The PodBroads" and Em of "Verbal Diaroma.")

They typically spend about 10-15 hours on creating a podcast, which includes writing, editing, transcribing, and distributing. A good rule of thumb is to spend an equal amount of time on promotion as on creation.

Promotion time = Creation time

So, if you're spending 15 hours per week creating, you should ideally spend 15 hours per week promoting.

If you're podcasting part-time or releasing bi-weekly episodes, the time you can dedicate might be less, and that's fine! As long as you carry out the time measurement exercise above, you can determine how many hours you should aim to spend on promoting your podcast.

Since weekly podcasting in the US is around 80M, we'll discuss on a weekly basis here. To ensure inclusivity and ease of adaptation, we'll divide time by percentage. For example, when we say 10%, that could mean 10% of 15 hours or 5 hours. As long as it's not 10% of 0, you're good.

Now, let's delve into the three promotional priorities and the amount of time you should allocate to each.

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Promotional Priority 1: Identify Your Enthusiastic Listeners

Suggested time – 50% of your promo time.

At this year's Podcast Movement conference, Edison Research's SVP Tom Webster emphasized that podcast creators need to concentrate on the recommendability of their podcasts. Edison’s Podcast Consumer Tracking Report showed that 23% listeners discover new shows through recommendations from friends and family.

This represents the Pareto principle of podcasting; 80% of your promotion will be done by 20% of your listeners. We advise spending most of your time identifying who these avid listeners are and understanding

the value your podcast provides them. It's important to discover who this 20% is and what resonates with them. These are the individuals who will endorse your show and that's the value you want to focus on.

Kick off by surveying your current listeners using this complimentary Edison survey template. Whether you have 5 or 500 listeners, this is the point to begin. If you discover you don't have any ardent fans, it's time to cultivate them. To do this, you'll need to know what your listeners think of your show. The Episodes and Elements section in the survey will provide this information.

For those who are just entering the podcasting world, we haven't forgotten about you! You also need to conduct market research by sharing a sample on platforms like Reddit or Twitter. Keep reading to discover which subreddits to frequent and which Twitter accounts to interact with. Once your market research is complete and the podcast launched, you too begin surveying.

Surveys shouldn't stop once you've identified and/or developed your ardent fans; regularly gather listener feedback.

As for the number of enthusiastic fans you need, Jack Rhysider, host of "Darknet Diaries," states it takes about 150 super fans for your podcast to propagate on its own.

Promotional Priority 2: Reaching Out to Newsletters

Time Allocated – 30% of your promo time.

Now that the word-of-mouth marketing aspect is taken care of, you can explore other targeted podcasting promotions. You need to be where your audience resides.

Here’s where podcast recommendation newsletters come in handy:

Every newsletter listed above caters to a specific audience, ensuring your podcast gets noticed by potential listeners. The first step is to identify the ones that align with your target audience, and then craft a pitch for them.

A few things to bear in mind when crafting your pitch:

  • Make it personal – Use the recipient's name and show that you've done your homework.
  • Be concise – The subject line and the first sentence should immediately grab attention.
  • Explain why it's a good fit – Explain why your show would be interesting to their readers.
  • Provide easy access – Links to the podcast, images, and social media should be clearly provided.

Promotional Priority 3: Social Media and Online Communities

Time Spent – 20% of your promo time.

Interacting on social media and online communities are proven methods to gain more podcast listeners. Depending on your podcast’s topic and audience, different platforms may prove more successful than others.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and even TikTok, are popular platforms where you can engage with potential listeners. There are also platform-specific groups, like Facebook groups, where podcasters can share their shows and get feedback.

In the Reddit community, there are various subreddits where you can promote your podcast:

Be careful to respect each community's rules and not to spam.

In conclusion, growing your podcast audience is definitely a challenge, but by focusing your efforts on the right tasks and setting aside a good chunk of your time for promotion, you can steadily increase your listenership. Remember, it's about the quality of your content and connecting with your audience on a personal level. So, be patient, listen to feedback, and keep refining your strategy. Good luck!

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Article written by Dylan Moore

Dylan, originaly from Turkey, discovered his passion for programming and podcasting online. Him and his team later founded PodApp, a user-friendly platform designed to make podcasting accessible to everyone. Read more