Anybody can start a podcast, but how does one grow an audience? Earn more listeners.
Podcasting is a great way to get your voice heard, literally, on a variety of subjects, including business. If you want to put your expertise, journalism or opinions out there in audio form, starting a podcast is easy. The hard part is letting people know about it and building up a listener base. Here are a few tips to get you started in the rough-and-tumble field of podcasting.
1. Launch strong.
Launch your podcast strong with multiple episodes at the start and multiple episodes each week afterward. Maintain that pace for a few weeks. This will build up your library early on, giving listeners more episodes to binge on and boosting your downloads. More attention early on will make it more likely that you'll catch the attention of podcast players such as iTunes or Google Play Music to be featured on their front pages, where potential listeners can see new and interesting podcasts. Encourage listeners to give your podcast ratings, especially on iTunes, where 70 percent of podcast listening happens, according to Nieman Lab. Getting a spot on these pages is tricky, but it will be a major boon to your listenership if you can make it happen.
Treat the launch as an event, building up as much buzz as you can leading up to it. Use your current following, whether it's through social media, a newsletter or other platforms, to announce the podcast. Remind people when it gets closer, instructing them how to listen when the time comes.
2. Partner with other podcasts.
Networking and connecting with your contemporaries is essential for gaining new listeners. Contact podcasts you think would be a good fit to partner up with. Agreeing to mention each other's podcasts will direct their listeners to your program, in exchange for informing your own followers of theirs. Guest-starring on each other's podcasts is an even better way of sharing listeners. It always pays to make connections and friends in the field who can support you. Competition is important, but forming strong bonds is just as important.
3. Take on guest stars.
Speaking of guest-starring, if your show plans on having guests for interviews, be sure to take advantage of your guests' followings. Make announcements about your upcoming guests, and work with them to promote their episode as much as possible. Even a single social media post from their account about the episode has the potential to bring in hundreds of more downloads, depending on their following. Send guest stars a reminder email with a link to the episode once it launches for easy sharing. Your guest's audience has the potential to become your audience if listeners like what they hear.
4. Post on multiple platforms.
Although iTunes and Google Play are the most popular places to download podcasts, don't neglect to promote your podcast on other popular platforms such as Stitcher, Overcast, SoundCloud and Pocket Casts. Lots of podcast listeners use these apps to explore and discover new and interesting podcasts.
First you'll need to create an RSS feed of your podcast. To get your podcast on iTunes, you'll need to go through Podcasts Connect, which allows Apple to validate your submissions. You'll need an iTunes Store account and an Apple ID. All podcast content must be original and cannot contain password protections, explicit language, or racist, misogynistic or homophobic content. You can't reference illegal drugs, profanity, violence or graphic sex. Google Play Music has similar restrictions.
Another platform you should consider putting your podcast on is YouTube. Converting your audio podcast to a video format, even with just a still image, has several benefits, according to a blog post by social media management app Buffer. YouTube makes it easy to share videos on social media, automatically provides closed captioning and transcripts, and benefits your SEO since YouTube is owned by Google. In your video's description, provide a link to where listeners can download the audio-only version of your podcast.
5. Engage your audience.
Building a reputation as an engaging podcast with a community is key to earning and keeping listeners over time. Kate Erickson, of Fire Nation and her podcast Kate's Take, said the most important steps to growing your audience include being social with your current audience and building a community. Communicate with loyal audience members via social media, comment sections, etc. Listen to your audience's feedback and respond to them. It shows the community that you're all ears and open to constructive criticism.
A call to action in your podcast is also important to keep listeners engaged. It lets listeners know what they can do next, like visit your website, leave a comment, send in email questions or share the podcast.
Building an audience for your podcast won't happen overnight, and the growth can be slow. However, if you consistently produce content, continue promoting it and engage with the following you do gain, then growth can happen.