Creating the podcast is a huge accomplishment, but listeners – and downloads – are the other half of the equation. Reaching listeners and keeping listeners is one way to measure the success of your podcast. Keep track of your numbers over time and have a target in mind for your growth. Track your numbers in a podcast planner, if you do not already use one, or even a simple notebook or spreadsheet.
Perhaps you’ve had your podcast going for a few months, but your growth seems to be leveling off. You had great growth at first, but now you do not seem to be gaining more traction. Where is your audience?
They are waiting for you to reach them.
How do you get new listeners?
1. Create the best quality content you can
You have to strive to create the BEST content you can. It has to be world-class. You are not competing with the podcasts of 8 years ago. Today’s software can make an inexpensive set-up sound like an expensive recording studio, so sound quality alone will not set you apart.
However, if your content is entertaining, your audio is world-class, and you make content consistently, you can rest assured your audience will come with time.
2. Be a guest on other podcasts
This is really the only way you can be sure to grow your audience. Hundreds of entrepreneurs and podcast “coaches” will say that they have the secret system to grow an audience, and, likely, they do not.
There is no shortcut to podcasting and little chance of virality. It happens, but it happens from getting interviewed on the biggest shows. For the most part, podcasting is all about slowly building a relationship with your audience.
That takes time.
If someone trusts you enough to share their audience with you, you are likely to gain a few listeners, but likely not a huge number. Don’t squander that growth, though. Be sure to mention that you have some new listeners, reintroduce yourself, welcome them to your listening audience, and perhaps refer them to a specific older episode or two that you think they may particularly enjoy, based on whichever podcast you visited and the topics discussed.
How do you engage listeners?
1.) Show Notes
Engaging current listeners is the name of the game in podcasting. If you mention a product, a book, a blog, or even a reference to a previous episode of your podcast, make sure to put that information in the show notes and MENTION in the show that the info will be in the show notes. This is how you start to create an audience that will support your show directly with payments or through their shopping by using your affiliate links.
Remember, your audience is inviting you into their homes, cars, workplaces – everywhere they listen to podcasts – and those who listen consistently do so because they appreciate and feel a connection with you. Even though podcasting is generally one-way communication, this can absolutely be a positive, two-way relationship.
Think of it this way: one-way communication is not new in this world. Back in the “olden days” (roughly 1800-1995), some people might receive a lengthy letter from a family member or friend, appreciate it, read and reread it, and somehow never send a reply. That does not mean the letter was sent in vain. Quite the opposite! Both parties received something in the exchange: the satisfaction of putting pen to paper, reaching out to a friend, or telling local gossip to someone far away; and the satisfaction of receiving a letter, learning the gossip, knowing someone cared enough to write.
In the modern age, it’s more akin to the countless Facebook, Instagram and TikTok accounts of people who sign in only to see what other people post. Those participants are still engaged in the content others make – sometimes liking, commenting, or sharing others’ posts. They feel connected to and appreciate the accounts they follow. Podcasting can create an even deeper connection as they learn the sound of your voice, your favorite phrases, your opinions, and your thoughts. They listen to you because they like you and enjoy listening to what you discuss. So, just as you remember when a friend makes a recommendation to you, your listeners will remember what you discuss on your podcast. So put it in the show notes!
Show notes are the best place to place these links, as your audience can just click on the URL you provide and go directly to your affiliate partner. It is also a great place to have a link to a freebie where you can start creating an email list.
2.) Email List
This is going to be one of the most valuable aspects of your business. Your social media accounts are great and have clear benefits, but those companies – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter – can absolutely take away your access at any moment. Get hacked? You may lose access to your social media account and never get it back. Post something that was flagged for some reason? Locked out.
So far the podcasting space has been pretty open to everyone and has rarely taken steps to de-platform shows, but this may not always be the case. When you own your email list, you truly own it. I would even recommend keeping a CSV of your email list on a portable hard drive.
It is that important. And that is valuable.
A common – and effective – tactic for developing an email list is to offer something to those who sign up. A freebie that is related to your show is simple and does not have to cost you anything. It could be a pdf you created of, say, a packing list if your show is about travel. It can be a phone wallpaper that is the logo of your show. Don’t make it complicated.
3.) Social media
Above, we noted that social media can be revoked anytime, so you do not want to use it exclusively to reach out to your listeners. Social media is a great way to get engagement. Just keep your email list as a backup! A listener survey is a quick way to get interaction – and content for your next show. Remember to describe the responses and even read some comments – including the names – in the episode. Over time, you will begin to recognize your most engaged followers. Who knows? You may even discover some potential guests or guest hosts in your listeners through social media.
Remember to ask your listeners to review your podcast. This is how many podcasts gain listeners. Those who are just starting to listen to podcasts – or are just realizing the breadth of podcast shows – will search by topic or keyword and then hunt through the results. The shows with more reviews will rise to the top, and reviews themselves can get someone to become a listener who was on the fence based on the description.
Although this is in the “how to engage your listeners” portion, consider this a 2-for-1 deal because if you start getting a lot of reviews, you may even decide to read a few – good or bad – as a part of the show. You’ve just found more content for your show.