Promoting a Podcast: Finding Your Listeners
Promoting a podcast? That's often the last thing people are thinking about when they are hit with the inspiration to start sharing their ideas via audio on the web. I have been a fan of the "Build it, and they will come," strategy ever since I saw Field of Dreams. Unfortunately, it rarely works.
Think about it, the latest film in the Jurassic Park series, The Fallen Kingdom had a lot going for it. Big stars, a known franchise, killer CGI, and yet, Universal spent around $185 million to promote it. So, my little podcast, without an established franchise, or Chris Pratt, is going to need a little help gaining traction.
Unfortunately, I also don't have 185 million dollars. Most of us don't. Most podcasters have budgeted somewhere in the neighborhood of $0 to promote their podcast. That is okay.
I can't guarantee you are going to make it to the top of the charts or start pulling in six-figures from your podcast but, I am going to share some tips for getting the word out.
Start Early when Promoting a Podcast
If you haven't launched your podcast yet, now is the time to start promoting. Just don't start too early. What I mean by that is, be sure you are going to do it. There is no data to back this up, but I want to guess that most podcasts die before they ever launch. So, don't waste your energy promoting until you are sure you will have something to promote.
Launch Your Podcast with Multiple Episodes
This can be a hard one. I know, for me, once I had my first episode done, I wanted to set it free in the wild and see how it would do. However, if you're going to get people hooked, give them more than one to listen to right from the start. This will also help with your listener count. If you talk 50 people into listening to your podcast and you have one episode, that gives you a listen count of 50. If you have five episodes, and your friends decide to keep listening after the first one, that is 250.
How Many Episodes?
That might depend on how time-sensitive your podcast is. If you are starting a sports podcast that covers the weekly games, you don't want to launch with five episodes since four would already be dated. But you could put together a season preview and launch with that and week one.
If your podcast does not have a shelf-life, you could launch with three, five, or even more. Think about it, services like Netflix launch an entire season of a new show all at once.
Tell Your Friends, Family, Coworkers, Neighbors, and other Random People You Know
This seems obvious, but many podcasters fail to do this. The people most likely to listen to your podcast are people you already know. No this may be a harder sell if you have a really niche podcast (like this one). However, your closest friends will likely listen anyway. This will give you some momentum. Building up some initial downloads and listens will provide you a mental boost and may even get you featured on the charts.
In person is always best, but you may be able to reach more people via email. Just keep it personal. Don’t copy and paste a bunch of addresses into the to: or cc: field. Send each one individually and use your friends’ names. If you have a ton of friends, you could use a service like MailChimp. Just be sure to take advantage of the automated personalization features.
Here is a sample email you might send. This one falls under the “start early” concept. Send out an email like this a couple of weeks before you are ready to launch.
I am starting a podcast! Maybe you are wondering, "What is a podcast?" It is a short audio program that people can listen to on their computer, mobile device, or even in their car.
Mine is about...[description of your podcast]
I am wondering if you could do me a favor and give it a listen. I am hoping you might enjoy it. Even if it isn't your thing, just listening to one episode will help me out. Podcasts get more attention when people are listening to them. By listening, you might help someone else find the show.
The show launches in two weeks. Don't worry, I won't spam you about this, but I will send you an email when it is ready with a link so you can give it a try. Maybe you might even consider sharing it with someone else who might be interested.
Thanks in advance!
Ask Those Friends to Tell Their Friends
Of the efforts and methods you use when promoting a podcast, word of mouth will always be king. Don't be afraid to ask your friends to help spread the word. Here is a sample email you could send out to your friends when you finally launch.
[Name of your podcast] is live! I have already posted five episodes, and I wonder if you might take a few minutes to listen to an episode (or more if you want.) Even if it isn't your thing, your listen will improve my ratings and help others find the show.
You can listen here. [link]
If you have any friends who might be interested, I would be grateful if you would forward this email along to them.
Thanks in advance for your help!
Leverage Social Media to Promote a Podcast
Everybody is going to tell you to use social media to promote your podcast. I agree, but it is more complicated than that. The effectiveness of your social media impact is going to depend on your current social media presence. Let me make this simple. If you have five Twitter followers, sharing about your podcast is not going to have a significant impact.
If you are serious about using social media to promote your podcast, you are going to need to do some work to grow your audience and follow best practices. That could be a whole post on its own. Fortunately, there are some other folks online already writing about this.
Andrea offers some great insight especially in her free Social Media for Podcasts Roadmaps. If you are serious about this, she also offers paid consulting.
Jeff Bulas' blog is a great place to start when learning about all the ins and out of digital marketing and personal branding.
PastorWill.net – I write another blog mostly dedicated to church communications but if you search “social media” you will find some tips and advice on growing and connecting with your social media audience.
Hang out Where Your Niche Hangs Out
I originally wrote this section solely on social media. But as I wrote it, it occurred to me that this is about “social” period. Ask yourself, where do people who might like my podcast hang out – online and off?
If your podcast is about a local sports team, think about all the possibilities. There might be a Twitter hashtag that gets used to talk about the team, especially on game days. There may be one or more Facebook groups. There may be a website where people can comment about the latest news. Or, still social, but not online, there may be a local sports bar where everyone gathers to watch the game. Any of these places are great venues to engage with people who share the interest.
It might be tempting to use these places just to post about your podcast, but that isn't going to play in a Facebook group, or in a bar. You will need to engage, join conversations, and get to know people before you let them know you also have a podcast they might want to listen to.
Spend Some Money to Promote a Podcast
I saved this for last because most podcasters I talk to have about $0 budgeted for their podcast and that covers equipment, hosting fees, and snacks. But if you want to go for the gold and can find a way to fund it, a little money can go a long way. Here are some of the options you have to spread the word a little faster.
· Advertise on related podcasts.
· Purchase some targeted ads with Google Ads.
· Pay for some boosted posts on Facebook.
· Invest in Promoted Tweets on Twitter.
It doesn't take a lot of cash to gain a little momentum using these options. However, consider them as a way to supplement all the free stuff. Engaging your friends as promoters is free and will always be the most powerful way to find more listeners.
It just wouldn’t be right to end this post without inviting you to listen to my podcast! You can check it out here.
If you are looking for a professional intro for your podcast, I can help. Check out my professionally voiced and produced podcast intros starting at $10.
If you want to check out some of the equipment I use in my own studio or write about on this blog, you can read more here.