Promoting Your Podcast
Marketing Your Podcast & Gaining Early Listenership
06.04.18 | Podcasting Basics | By: Jon Street
Right from the outset I want to cut to the chase & get to the point. Some of the questions we are asked most regularly deal with how to best market & promote podcasts. Even as I’m writing this I’ve just responded to a client whose asked about how to gain traction within iTunes through SEO & see the success she’s wanting for her new podcast. She’s worked really hard putting this idea together & she wants it to do well, she just needs a little guidance. This is familiar territory for us. In all honesty, our team is bombarded with questions like this on a regular basis as people try to promote their podcasts effectively. And naturally this will be a topic you will also consider if you want to see your podcast be promoted & succeed. And of course that’s what you want, right?! Nobody plans to fail from the outset. And there’s nothing worse than pouring your heart & soul, blood, sweat & tears into something with lofty expectations of how it will shine, just to have it become a dud simply because nobody even knows about it. It’s even worse when you find out you could have done more but simply didn’t because you didn’t know what to do. When something is important to you, you want others to hear about it & see why it’s important. You want to do everything in your power to help make it a success. But the reality is that a savvy post on Facebook or a carefully crafted email blast to let your friends know you’re starting a podcast is probably not enough to get the success you’re wanting. To promote your podcast effectively & get the results you’re looking for, you need to do more. The question is what. What do you need to do to promote it? Well in another recent post we offered some great tips about marketing your podcast & how to spread the word about your new creative venture in an effective way. The greatest thing about this previous article is that it’s from the perspective of an actual podcaster who’s had really great success by using the tools she’s offering to others. She’s practiced what she’s preached. There is no greater testimonial on success than a personal testimonial. And while there is a lot of great content there that I cannot recommend highly enough, I wanted to also offer a companion article to help you get some insight into some additional ways to help you promote your podcast & gain an audience, specifically right after it’s been released. If you want some practical ways to have your podcast be promoted well & have it’s best chance to succeed, then stick with me.
Is success important?
At first this seems like a strange question. This answer seems simple enough, right? Of course your podcasts’ success is important. Nobody sets out in podcasting (or anything else for that matter) to see it come crumbling down around them due to poor planning or execution. And you no doubt understand that apathy is not the best marketing strategy. You don’t invest just to have it fall flat on its face. People know this. They understand this. That’s why there are lots of articles out there about how to podcast successfully. A simple search on Google will populate your results feed with hits like 101 Ways to Help Your Podcast Succeed, or How to Market Your Podcast or Tactics to Promote Your Podcast among others. People want to podcast & do it right because people understand how effective & popular podcasts have become as of late. Simply put, if you’re going to do it, you have to do it right! The question simply becomes, what does that look like? We recently offered some thoughts in our Basics of Podcasting series on When to podcast, which reviewed the specifics of when you should schedule the initial release of your podcast as well as your ongoing episodes, most effectively. But the hard work does not stop there. In order for your podcast to continue to succeed it is critical that you give due diligence to the idea of promoting your podcast effectively in the early days & weeks after it’s released to gain traction & the listenership you’re looking for. The key is developing a goal to go after.
What’s your goal?
Once you release & have developed a plan for being consistent, you have to think of how to gain listeners. Again, this is where some of the marketing aspects we’ve already discussed come in to play. But beyond that, think about what you want to get from your podcasting venture. The reality is, people have different goals. For some, podcasting is creative outlet they just want to use to discuss things they like. Maybe you’re satisfied doing that with a hundred of your closest friends in tow. Great! Your goal will be to tell all the people in your friend group about what you’re doing & ask them to give you a listen. But maybe you want more. Maybe you want to really gain an audience. Maybe you want to have the opportunity to speak into the lives of thousands or tens of thousands. Maybe you want your podcast to be in the shiny lights of the top list of podcasts on a directory. It’s certainly feasible. But to do it, you have to know what you’re trying to do. You have to have a goal in mind to go after & see what it will take to get there. This is where you have to do some follow-up & studying. If you want your podcast to be effectively promoted you have to know how that happens & what it will take to get there.
What really matters?
Sure, you obviously want your friends & family to give your podcast a listen. You want their accolades & attaboys. You want the pinched-cheeks at Christmas from grandma telling you how proud she is. But for many podcasters they want more. They want increased exposure & greater momentum to their listenership. Well there is no more effective way in doing that than looking right into the eyes of the giant. What giant? iTunes. Many estimate that over 70% of your listeners will come through this directory alone, so this is where you really want (or at least, should want) to succeed. If you succeed in iTunes, your podcast is on it’s way to gaining tremendous traction. So what does it look like to succeed in iTunes? Well one goal most podcasters have is climbing the charts into the New & Noteworthy section of iTunes. If you are able to climb the rankings into this category, buckle up for a wild ride & what you should expect to be tremendous exposure for your podcast. Now to be honest, this is a lofty goal, but it is certainly attainable. In fact, this is familiar territory for even Resonate clients. But to do this successfully, you have to have a plan in place. To take on this giant, you have to go at it hard & fast right from the very beginning. To be honest, in some ways, what it takes to even make it into this highly coveted spot is a bit ambiguous. Apple has yet to release the “formula” of what it takes, but nevertheless we will cover what we know about the basics. And the basics are this. To make it into New & Noteworthy you have a limited window of 8 weeks. That’s it. Remember-it’s called New & Noteworthy for a reason. This category is for new podcasts that are succeeding & doing all the right things to gain the attention of the world. If you plan to release a few episodes & sit on your hands to see what happens, you will not succeed here. The trick is, knowing what takes to get there. Now there’s a lot behind the scenes that goes into it, but the quick rundown is boosting your ratings, reviews & downloads in iTunes because it shows that people care about your podcast. How do you do that? Have consistent content for your listeners to consume. And not only that, but have a call to action! Your listeners may seem like nice people who want to see you do well so you can be happy & continue to supply them with content for listening, but the reality is, unless you give them am impetus to do something, they will likely not show you the love simply out of the kindness of their heart. So what do you do? Ask them to like you, follow you, rate you, review you, download you. Ask them to help you succeed! It’s a simple this that goes a long way. Now it might take you back to the sweaty-palm days of high-school when you asked that cute classmate out, all-the-while fearing rejection, but to have the celebration of success you’re looking for, you have to have the guts to step up. Now to be fair, Apple is not the only show in town. While they have been the predominant source for podcasts to date & likely may continue to be due to their notoriety, there is something to be said about alternative sources who are gaining popularity. Take this recent article for example. Whatever platform or method you focus your attention to though, the call remains the same. Engage your listeners to find success & offer them consistent content to engage over. And ask them to help you get where you want to be!
Are you invested?
It’s not enough to ask your listeners to invest in you by offering their ratings & reviews & taking a minute to show you some love. You have to invest too. To succeed you have to invest your time & likely your resources. There’s no doubt that podcasting is an investment of your time. But if you want to get serious, you may also want to consider investing your resources into increasing your exposure. But you need to figure out what you’re trying to gain from this because all of your ducks need to be laid in a row at the time of rollout to get you the most success in promoting your podcast. So what’s something to consider? Advertising. When you are ready to release your podcast, ask the Resonate team about some strategies we have seen work well for our clients. Who knows, maybe another member of the Resonate family would be interested in helping another grassroots podcaster get the traction they are wanting through some promo swaps. It’s happened before! If you really want to take it to the next level though, consider paying for initial advertising. Also, spend some time on keywords to target that will reel in the listeners you believe will be drawn to your podcast. Keep it simple & logical. Use those keywords in your descriptions & show notes, but don’t stop there. Once you’ve figured out what keywords to target, consider paying for paid advertising on Google Adwords, Reddit Ads, Facebook Ads, and Stumbleupon Ads—at least as a temporary measure. Your first listeners are going to be the hardest to get, so it’s worth the money you’ll spend to net early listeners.
What about others?
You have to remember you are not alone in this. Your success is not limited to you & your own efforts. The great thing about podcasting is that there is typically tremendous support at your disposal through other podcasts. Podcasters want to do well & those with some experience also know what it takes to do well, so they want to help others & have others help them. Look to other podcasters to get the success you are looking for in promoting your podcast. How do you do that? Well one great thought is to consider interviewing other podcasters with greater followership & influence than you. Look at where others are, where you want to be & see how you can bridge that gap with their help. There’s no shame is being honest & asking for some assistance. Most podcasts have been helped along the way as well & they are readily available to lend a helping hand. This is the case not only with interviews but also with cross-promotion & marketing through ads. Have a podcast you like? Ask them if they’d be willing to do a little promo for you in exchange for promoting them. Use the success of others to your own advantage. Look for the success of others as a way to help yourself learn & grow. But don’t just limit yourself to the independent podcasters who picked themselves up by their bootstraps & found wild success. Something can be said about a large organization who’s had to jump through the same hoops as you & I. The folks over at Buffer have chronicled the release of their podcast & what it’s taken to help them gain an audience. To be fair, a well-known person or organization will naturally have a broader listening base to promote the podcast to, but nobody is offered a higher place at the start of their podcast. While we all start from the bottom, we all have the same opportunity to make something great out of this venture!
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By: Jon Street
As the Production Coordinator at Resonate Recordings, Jon leads the production team & ensures that all our podcasters have everything needed to release consistent high-quality episodes. Jon & his family are from West Palm Beach, Florida & now live in Simpsonville, KY.