Podcasts have skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years: Recent data from Statista shows that 62% of Americans listen to podcasts, and there are now more than 2.4 million valid podcasts, according to Apple.
With so many podcasts out there, it can be tough to get yours in the limelight. Here are five ways to get your podcast heard in a crowded market.
How to get your podcast heard
1. Find a niche, and stick to it.
It’s better to have a dedicated niche than to call yourself a general podcaster who talks about everything under the sun. The more you narrow your niche, the more listeners you’ll end up with. People look to podcasters with experience in a particular topic, and it’s impossible to be an expert in every single subject.
Narrow your niche to two or three subtopics. It’s OK to branch out a little, but discussing several random topics will nudge your audience to go elsewhere. [Learn more about podcasts that will inspire your mornings.]
2. Network, and then network some more.
Creation may be complex, but promotion is equally important. The best way to get your content in front of your audience is by networking. This allows you to put your brand in front of new eyes without coming off as too “salesy” or forceful, and there are several ways to do this.
Take advantage of social media to find people in your industry – both content creators and listeners. Comment on your favorite podcasts, and tell the podcasters how much you enjoy their content. If your social media accounts are optimized, it’s likely they’ll check out your page and interact with you. You can post snippets and sneak peeks of your podcast on Facebook or Twitter to give listeners a taste of it. It’s also wise to use industry hashtags so users can find your content easily.
3. Focus on SEO.
Optimizing your podcast for search is essential if you want to be heard in such a crowded market. The more optimized your content is, the better chances it has of reaching people within your audience. You want your podcast to get high search rankings so that it has the best chance of getting interactions and shares.
Conduct keyword research, and apply it to your episodes. Optimize the title and description so that users and search engines have a clear understanding of what your content is about and what audience it suits best.
4. Hold contests and giveaways.
It doesn’t hurt to add a little incentive for listeners, and contests and giveaways are great ways to spice things up and gain traction in your industry. It’s a win-win: The audience receives something, and you market the podcast and encourage engagement.
You can set the rules so that you see a spike in your interactions and shares. When holding a giveaway, you can make one of the requirements that your listeners follow you on social media or share one of your episodes. In return, they have a shot at winning something valuable from you.
5. Invite special guests.
Bringing a guest on your podcast can breathe new life into a topic. Guests often provide new insights and can make for lively, entertaining and inspiring podcasts. A guest also increases the number of promotional opportunities you’ll have, as guests will have their own social media platform where your podcast can reach an even wider audience. Your guest’s audience will also likely listen to you and your guests’ joint efforts, ushering in a cadre of new listeners. If these listeners like what they hear, this new audience might merge with yours. You can also work with your guests to cross-promote your podcasts.
Podcast mistakes to avoid
In addition to following the tips above, you’ll need to steer clear of some common missteps if you want your podcast to succeed. Make sure to avoid these podcast mistakes:
Neglecting sound quality
This is an especially common mistake for podcasts with multiple hosts. Usually, there is an obvious imbalance in the volume of each person’s voice. Oftentimes, the host of the show has the loudest volume, making guests harder to hear. This imbalance can ultimately ruin your audience’s listening experience.
Poor sound quality can also limit your ability to attract advertisers and monetize your podcast. You can use editing software to level out the volume on the recording.
Bad sound quality can ruin the listening experience and turn off advertisers, so be sure to edit your recordings so that everyone can be heard clearly.
Forgetting ID3 tags
ID3 tags allow you to include file information in your podcast episodes. Podcast players rely on this information to know which episodes they haven’t listened to yet and might want to come back to. You can add ID3 tags to your podcast episode when you upload the file to your platform.
Not including a CTA
While it’s true that promoting your product too much can turn off your audience, calls to action (CTAs) can boost your email list. Be sure to include a CTA at the end of every episode.
CTAs also help to build a relationship with your listeners and can potentially grow your audience. Consider offering something of value, such as free merchandise, in exchange for a listener’s contact information. However, a CTA can be as simple as inviting your listeners to join your email list.
Feedback is a valuable tool for any creative endeavor, including podcasts. Listening to feedback will help you understand what entertains your listeners and, in turn, make your listeners loyal followers. Anonymous feedback or comments on social media can even help you grow your audience.
Without feedback, there’s little opportunity for your podcast to grow and improve. Your email list and social media followers can be good sources of feedback. Encourage them to provide you with their thoughts on the latest episode, and specify which parts of your work you’d like your listeners to evaluate.
Using the wrong hosting service
Your audience interacts not only with your podcast but also with the hosting service you choose. Different hosting services come with various features; make sure the hosting service you choose works best for your podcast in particular.
For instance, because of its lack of features, YouTube is widely considered to be a weak podcast platform. On most podcast publishing platforms, listeners can download podcasts for offline listening, which isn’t the case for YouTube. In addition, YouTube keeps a user’s screen active and the podcast in the foreground, draining the battery and inconveniencing the listener. This is especially true when listeners are using mobile phones, which account for 79% of podcast listening hours, according to the MIDAS Survey.
Ensure you choose the right hosting service for your needs. It should be user-friendly and contain features that are well suited to your podcast and audience members.
Start building your podcast following
It’s tough, but not impossible, to get your podcast heard when there’s so much competition. You have to know which tactics to use to encourage interaction, and following the tips above can help you get there. Although it may take time to build a substantial following, it will be worth it in the end when you see the numbers you want.
Chris Christoff contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.