Crime Junkie Creator Ashley Flowers Shares Her Secrets to Podcasting Success - Jenna Kutcher


Crime Junkie Creator Ashley Flowers Shares Her Secrets to Podcasting Success

Jenna Kutcher 

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When I think of the giants in the podcasting space, no matter the genre, a few names come to mind. My guest for this conversation is one of them. She is the creator and host behind some of the most successful and well-known podcasts across all genres and the founder and CEO of a podcast network that crafts chart-topping audio content in true crime, comedy, fiction, and beyond. She’s a new mom, an advocate for victims, a rescue dog lover like me, and now she’s adding another title to her name: Author. 

When my podcast producer Kylie saw Ashley Flower’s name come through our inbox, there was no question we had to have Ashley on the show. There are several Crime Junkies on my team for one thing, but even more than that, Ashley is a leader in the podcasting space. I’m eager to talk shop with her and dig into what she’s learned since the first episode of her wildly successful podcasts, how the landscape of the true crime genre is changing, the secret to crafting chart-topping shows, and why she decided to take on the major task of writing a book – a work of fiction, no less. 

Not a Podcast Early Adopter

Ashley Flowers actually had to be convinced that she would enjoy listening to a podcast. When she hit play on a pod for the first time (it was Serial, for those curious) she was working a job that had her logging 8+ hours of drive time on any given day. Ashley breezed through audiobooks and loved the format, but she was not sold on the idea of a podcast. It was her BFF Brit, now co-host of Crime Junkie, who insisted she take a listen. 

“I loved it,” Ashley told me. BFFs always know best! “So then I just fell in love with what podcasting was. It was so much more personal than an audiobook, so much more accessible, and I just started consuming everything. I mean, I was listening to 20, 30 hours of content in the car a week and there wasn’t enough for me.”

Creating Crime Junkie

Crime Junkie is consistently at the top of the Apple Podcasts charts. The show is a recognizable name for any true crime fan, sure, but also the podcast listening community as a whole. The concept for the show came from Ashley’s own endless search for content. “There was this specific show that I kept looking for that I couldn’t find, that I kept waiting for someone to make,” Ashley explained. It sparked an idea.

“The volunteer work that I had done was with Crime Stoppers – I was on their board of directors – and they wanted me to find a way to do some brand awareness to a younger audience. Everything kind of just came together at the right time where I was like, you know, maybe I can make the show that I keep looking for. Maybe I’m the person that needs to make it instead of waiting for someone else, and at the same time I can help with this nonprofit and do what they’re asking me to do.”

Starting Crime Junkie was based on the things that mattered most to Ashley, then and now. She explained, “I think that’s why it worked is I didn’t get into podcasting because it was up and coming. I didn’t get into true crime because it was a hot genre. I loved it. I had so much passion for what I was doing. It was rooted in my want to give back.”

Grassroots Marketing

With so much success not only for Crime Junkie, but also for the whole host of shows on the audiochuck network, I know Ashley has some behind the scenes secrets for marketing her content. What was most interesting to me was how she first grew Crime Junkie and gained new listeners – no fancy internet marketing here!

“When I started, I was working with literally the money I had in my savings account,” Ashley explained. “I got car magnets and I would drive around Indianapolis with giant magnets on my car. I was still traveling sometimes and so I made these little square cards that had a QR code to the podcast and I would leave them in airport bathrooms. Anytime I would go out, I would tape them to all the bathroom stalls in the women’s bathroom.”

Bathroom stall marketing. Have you tried it? It’s crazy how well it worked and yet it’s likely not a method many new podcasters have considered. Her grassroots marketing efforts were all about exposure and bringing people in. Ashley said, “I really felt like I had a show for a mass audience, just women of this specific age, so where are they? If I can just get in front of them and have them give me a shot, I think it’ll work.”

From Podcaster to Author

Ashley always had an idea for a crime fiction story simmering in the back of her brain. She wasn’t sure which medium it was for, but the idea of a book always felt right. She worked with a co-writer to bring her idea to life on the pages of All Good People Here, her very first book releasing on August 15, 2022. 

“How I was introduced to being a Crime Junkie was through crime fiction. My mom would read me Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie. To me, that’s the core of how I started. This doesn’t feel so much as a departure [from podcasting] to me as it feels like a shout out to where I came from.”

The book process was a long one, made longer by the global pandemic. The editing experience was also intense for Ashley, even as someone who is accustomed to feedback on the content she creates. Ashley shared, “It was really hard for me because with the editing process, I’ve never had anything ripped apart so hard. I got to one point where I was like, I don’t even know why you wanted this book. You don’t even like it.”

I appreciated Ashley’s vulnerability about this. As someone who went through the editing process of my book recently, I can relate to the ups and downs of having your work critiqued. But ultimately, Ashley now looks back on the process and is grateful for it. 

“I’m really grateful for the time that we had to pause and all of the editing that we did because the end product is so much better than if I would’ve just put this on paper and out into the world,” she concluded. 

More from Ashley Flowers

This episode is for anyone interested in starting and growing a podcast, for Crime Junkies wanting to hear another side of their favorite podcast host, and those struggling to claim a new title for themselves (Ashley is transparent about her struggles to celebrate and own the ‘author’ label). 

Press play to hear the full conversation with powerhouse Ashley Flowers and don’t forget to pick up her book All Good People Here at your favorite bookstore. 

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