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So you want to start a podcast… Or you’ve already started one and you’re ready to kick it up a notch and watch that downloads number creep steadily upwards. Regardless of what phase of the podcasting process you’re in, this download of our growth strategies is meant to get you thinking about the free and organic ways to increase your reach and get your show into the ears of more listeners.
Kylie joined the Goal Digger Podcast team in 2018. Since her first day, the show has logged over 36 million downloads. Together we’ve experimented with strategies and methods to grow the show, and we’re excited to share the results of those experiments with you.
Before we dig into the tried and true, I want to encourage you to take what feels good from this list of ideas and apply those. In full transparency, we don’t do ALL of the things on this list all of the time. Time and energy doesn’t always allow for it, and that’s okay. Apply a few of these methods in targeted pushes throughout the year to continually bring new people to your podcast community. Measure your results, know your numbers, and do experiments of your own. With these tips, we hope to help you find the secret sauce that allows your show to keep growing and going.
You Can Start from Zero
I know I had a built-in audience when I launched the Goal Digger Podcast. I’d built my social media and email list so I already had people in my community and familiar with my brand who were ready to hit play on my show. But let me assure you, it’s possible to start from zero. The key is to optimize your show and make it as easy as possible for someone to find it and subscribe to it and then actually tune in.
But it’s also key to recognize, like anything, what success means for you and your podcast. If your mission is to monetize and you feel that millions of listeners means more ad income which by some definitions, equals more success, then you might need more aggressive means of marketing and growing your entire brand to support the growth of your podcast.
But if your podcast is successful when you’re impacting the right people and leading them into your business, then the actual amount of listeners you need to reach that definition of success is smaller. Get specific on your download goals and make sure those numbers aren’t an arbitrary metric of success… Match your goals to specific business efforts, and put into action the steps below to reach those download goals.
Get Clear on Who You Want to Listen
Ask yourself: Who is this for and what do I want them to get out of it? Growing your podcast listenership first starts with knowing exactly who you want and need to be listening to your show, and making sure your show delivers an end result aligned with your listener’s reason for listening. For example, if you want business owners or aspiring entrepreneurs to tune into your show, confirm that you’re serving those listeners with what they need. For Goal Digger, it’s business and marketing strategies. When you know who you want to listen and what they’ll get out of it, you can start to look for things they’re already turning to deliver on that need.
What are they already listening to for podcasts in your niche? What hashtags are associated with that show or genre? What’s showing up in the “You Might Also Like” section at the bottom of your Apple Podcasts listing? The key is to find out where your potential listeners are hanging out and start showing up in those spaces.
Podcasting is not a space of scarcity. The average podcast listener subscribes to upwards of 6 to 8 shows. You can claim a spot in their podcast app as part of their audio toolkit for whatever need it is that your podcast meets.
Show Notes are Key
It’s easy to overlook or underestimate the power of having show notes on your website or blog. And it can be tempting to avoid this extra step altogether, especially after writing, recording, editing and producing an episode. Show notes, however, are one of the best tools you can give your podcast for growth.
Show notes are the blog counterpart of your podcast (hey, you’re on the show notes for this episode right now!) Show notes give a massive boost to SEO, they provide additional opportunities for invites into your business, they can guide listeners to more resources, and it’s the best way to get your listeners in a space you own.
Show notes should include the show title, the guest’s name if you have one, a summary of the main points, some sort of cliff hanger or anticipation builder to get someone to hit play, a podcast player for easy listening, and a call to action.
If you don’t have a space on the web yet for your show notes, maximize the show description that you include for every episode. Use that space thoughtfully and include links to easily access your social media or email so listeners can get in touch. You could take it a step further and fire up a free blog and start sharing, or lean on the free options created by many podcasts hosts for a show website.
Make it easy to find your show
Podcasting, though it may be top of mind for you, is still a new space for many listeners. You need to make it as easy as possible for every single listener who wants to tune in to do so on their favorite platform.
Link up each popular platform in your show notes (find your top listening platforms in your host analytics section, but most common are Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts) and embed a player from your host.
Take it a step further and add those links to the link in your bio on Instagram. We like to use Tailwind Smart.bio for the Goal Digger Podcast Instagram and we can easily link popular podcast platforms in buttons on that page so someone can easily click versus opening a platform, typing in the name, and potentially getting lost or distracted in the process.
Ask Your Guests to Share
If you have an interview based show, give your guest something that they’re excited to share with their audience. Leveraging their audience and inviting them into your show is a great way to boost downloads. We provide our guests with social graphics, videos, sound clips, and easy links that they can swipe to share their interview on their own platforms.
Getting a guest to share their episode starts even before the promotion phase. Think about this — Podcast guests often do more than one interview, especially if they’re promoting a new project or offer they have. The interviews can start to sound the same… But how can you make your experience different from the rest and make your guest want to talk about it? Part of this strategy begins with getting to know you guest, more than their quick bio, before you sit down for the interview.
If you don’t have an interview based show, create graphics and assets that your audience is inspired to share with their followers on social media. Super shareable quote graphics from something you taught or spoke on in a recent episode is a great way to get your content circulating on social media.
Do a Subscribe and Review Push
Hitting the subscribe button is one of the easiest ways a listener can support the growth of your show… But we forget to ASK them to do it! So, every now and then we specifically push listeners to subscribe (and if they’re feeling generous) to leave a review on Apple Podcasts.
Once a month or once a quarter, schedule a targeted push to get people subscribing and reviewing your show. Send out DMs, post about it on your social platforms, email your list, and simply make the ask. We sometimes offer an incentive in return to sweeten the deal. You could offer a secret, unreleased episode, a freebie or guide, or just a simple personalize thank you message in their DMs to show your gratitude.
And since this process can be new to some people, create a few screen recordings of how to subscribe and review your show. Make it easy for your listeners to take this action for you.
Be a guest on other shows
A great way to find new listeners is to introduce yourself on other podcasts. Put yourself out there and pitch your episode ideas to shows whose listener base aligns with your own.
This could also look like guest blogging or an Instagram takeover. Maybe it’s an ad swap with a show in your niche. Anytime you can get your show in front of new potential listeners is a great opportunity to invite new people to hit play on what you’ve created.
You need a Trailer
Okay, some extra credit for you. And confession here, this is something we didn’t have in place at the beginning, but since we’ve added it, we’ve noticed how important it is to create and release a podcast trailer!
A trailer is a specially categorized episode that shows up at the top of your podcast listening. Just like a move trailer, it’s a 2 to 3 minute overview of your show. It’s way easier for a new potential listeners to commit to 2 minutes versus a whole episode before they decide if the show is for them.
In your trailer, be sure to make it clear why you are the perfect, most qualified host for the subject. Make it engaging and speak directly to the listener. Incorporate music to set the tone, but don’t get bogged down in the production of it… Get right to the meat of the trailer content. Include a run down of what you cover, and if you have it, include clips of interviews or your strongest previously released content.
If producing a trailer isn’t in your production or editing wheelhouse, hire a freelancer with Fiverr to get it done fast (use code goaldigger for 10% off).
And when it’s ready to release to the world, don’t forget to share your trailer. Keep a link to it present on your social media so anyone who finds your platforms can hear what’s in store if they hit play on your show.
The Big Picture
If you define success for your own show, you’ll be more likely to hit that goal versus striving for these arbitrary industry metrics that people point to as “success”. If you’re releasing consistent content that serves your audience and invites people to take more action with your business, then you’re well on your way to a successful podcast.
For more on podcast growth strategies, hit play on the episode above or find it on your favorite platforms. Don’t worry… We’ve linked them all for you. We practice what we preach!