Launching & Growing Your Show | How to Make a Fiction Podcast #7
In the penultimate chapter of this series we're going to move away from actually making your fiction podcast, towards getting it out into the world for people to hear.
How do you distribute it? How should you promote it? And what other things can you do to help grow your audience?
A podcast needs a media host. Media hosts are services which allow you to upload your episodes, so that people can subscribe to your series and download them.
Once you sign up to a media host you'll enter all your shows details, and be given an RSS feed. Your RSS feed is a unique web address that you can use to submit your podcast to various directories like iTunes and Stitcher.
For a more in-depth look at media hosting and podcast distribution, check out Where Does a Podcast Live?
So which media host should you choose? Well, firstly, I'd recommend staying well clear of Soundcloud. There have been rumours for a couple of years now that they are haemorrhaging money, and their service is far from reliable. Don't put your podcast's eggs in that basket.
If you literally have no budget at all, and need a free service, then archive.org allows you to upload files and create an RSS feed. They are not a dedicated podcast host however, and I've heard mixed reviews on their feed's speed and reliability.
My two favourite media hosts are Blubrry and Libsyn, and I'd strongly recommend signing up to one of them. In this article I compare the two, so hopefully that will help you decide which one is the best fit for your show.
Cover art is your shop window in many ways. A great cover image can add to the professional look and feel of a show, whilst poor artwork can have the opposite effect and make a podcast look amateurish.
You might think it's harsh to have your audio-only series judged on visuals, but that's the nature of the beast. It's in your interests to source something that will intrigue potential listeners into checking your show out.
There are a few things to consider here.
- 1400 x 1400 is the most common pixel size. Using these dimensions will ensure your show complies with the requirements of all podcast directories.
- In terms of file size, make sure it is under 500kb.
- Your image might look great at full size, but does it still work when it is shrunk down alongside hundreds of others in the iTunes store?
- Don't cram too much in there. The only text on the cover art should be your show title.
So where can you find good cover art? Well, if you're a bit arty you can make your own with a service like Canva. You can use our very own custom podcast artwork service. Or you can approach an artistic friend to see if they'll create something for you. Just be mindful of the specs and recommendations above.
You can add your cover art, along with other information, onto your episode's MP3 file. Check out this short tutorial on how to do it using iTunes.
Having a website isn't essential for your podcast, but it is advisable. It's good to have somewhere that you own and control to which you can send your listeners. You don't own iTunes, Soundcloud, or anywhere else, and if you're telling people to find your show there and they suddenly shut down, or close their podcasting platforms, what will you do?
You can get a free site on WordPress.com where you can easily set up a platform for your show, even if you don't have a clue about web design or coding. Going down this route will limit your customisation options however, and your domain name will be something like myfictionpodcast.wordpress.com
It's much better to simply have myfictionpodcast.com - a self hosted site, that'll do much better in Google search rankings, and can be totally customised to suit the look and feel of your podcast.
Having a website is important when it comes to promotion (our next segment) and monetisation (our next chapter), so think carefully about this!
Setting up a podcasting website doesn't need to be difficult either. In fact, we have a video course that'll walk you through the entire process from start to finish.
Here's some key things to make sure you include on your website
- Links to your show in iTunes, Stitcher, and any other directories you're listed in
- A full episode list and RSS feed link. Make it easy for people to listen and subscribe
- The 'about' page is traditionally the most viewed page on a website. Take advantage of that by including all your vital info and links
- A contact page
- Social media links and share buttons
There are many different ways to promote your show to the world. The most obvious one is to start telling your friends and family about it on social media.
There's a fine line on platforms like Facebook between sharing and spamming. If you're active in various communities then posting a link to your new show shouldn't be a problem.
If you just rampage from group to group pinning virtual fliers to people's heads however, you might find yourself banned and your posts deleted. Don't be "that guy".
A good approach on a platform like Twitter is to actually promote the works of others in the medium. Shows that you respect and enjoy. If you're sharing links to other podcasts, there's a good chance the creator of that show will check out your profile, and maybe even your website which you can link to in your bio.
There's no promotion like word of mouth either, and that comes back to the section on websites about making it easy for people to share your content. If people like your show they'll want to tell others, so don't give them a mountain to climb here. Can they share your entire episode list and RSS feed onto someone's Facebook page with one click?
Finally, what about approaching some podcasts relevant to your genre and asking if they'd have you on as a guest? If you're creating a medieval fantasy, can you get on a Game of Thrones fan podcast? Or if you're doing a sci-fi space story, is there a Star Wars show that would have you on?
If you're going down this route just be sure to do your research and actually listen to the shows you approach. The hosts will probably be a lot more receptive to your email if you're actually a fan of their show, and not just someone who wants to get in front of their audience.
We've hopefully built the basis for taking your show forward now and actually growing it. In the next (and final) chapter we're going to talk about monetisation. I've really enjoyed putting this series together so far and I'd love to hear your feedback (and your podcast, if you're at that stage yet) so get in touch in the comments section below.