Building Your Podcast on Solid Foundations

Why you need to make sure you’ve done the groundwork before trying to build an audience.

building your podcast on solid foundations

Every podcaster wants to get their show in front of more ears and increase their download numbers. If you've not quite got the basics right though, any new listeners who find your show might not be compelled to stick around and subscribe.

As Bill Bernbach once said – “Nothing makes a bad product fail faster than good marketing.”

So how do you make sure you're building on solid foundations with your podcast growth? The starting point is to look at what it is you're actually trying to grow.

Getting Back to Basics

One of the many obstacles that stand in the way of starting a new podcast is procrastination. Some folks never get around to launching their show because they over-plan every little detail. Because of this perfectionism, they never actually get to the point of hitting record.

It's far better to start recording, without having much of a plan in place, than it is to have the most thoroughly planned show in history which only exists as notes on a word document.

Because of this, a lot of shows have been launched without huge amounts of planning. The beauty of podcasting though is that its all on your terms. You can adjust, tweak, or pivot your content. You can make as many changes as you want, ranging from subtle to sweeping.

Maybe you nailed everything before you even recorded your first episode, or, perhaps there's still a few things you missed the first time around. Answering the following questions will help you to spot if there's any more groundwork to be done here.

What Kind of Podcaster Are You?

…and what pain are you trying to solve? This sounds dramatic, but you need to determine where your podcast fits into the lives of your listeners or target audience.

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The people who listen to your show are selfish. I don't mean that in a bad or negative way – it's just a reality that if someone dedicates an hour of time each week to listen to you talk, they're doing so because they are getting something out of it.

This is where your topic and niche comes in. What do you have that people want? Like most things in podcasting, the possibilities here are limitless, but there are five main categories.

The Podcasters
  • The Teacher – Are you teaching something?
  • The Coach – Are you offering encouragement or advice?
  • The Journalist – Are you tapping into the expertise of others by interviewing them?
  • The Guinea Pig – Are you about to embark on a learning journey by trying and testing various things?
  • The Entertainer – Here, you could be anything from a comedian or film reviewer to a storyteller or audio drama producer.

Of course, these can all overlap. You might be only one of these, or you might be all five. The point is you need to identify exactly what you're offering and why your audience wants or needs to listen. Are you going to help them lose weight? Share personal experiences and advice for dealing with grief? Teach them how to grow their own fruit and veg? Or make them laugh with some improv comedy sketches?

Once you know you're offering something that people want, you're well on your way to growing your audience before we've even done a single piece of promotion. Let's move on to the next question.

Who (And Where) Are Your Audience?

A targeted approach with any promotion that you do is going to be far more effective than a billboard or scattergun strategy of shouting to everyone. We've identified what you're offering with your show, now let's find out who you're offering it to.

If you're a fitness podcast, for example, there are still sub-categories to niche down to so you can really focus on who you want to reach. Is it a weight loss show for people who don't traditionally exercise, or is it a podcast for athletes looking to fine-tune their training?

Both groups here have different motivations, habits, and lifestyles, and they'll be found in different groups and communities online too. The more work you put into researching this, the easier it'll be to successfully promote your show.

What Are You Trying to Achieve?

What ultimately is the purpose of your podcast, from your own point of view? Again, if we look at the fitness example, let's say our podcaster is an authority on weight loss through various diets and exercise regimes. Her podcast gives away a load of great information for free, but once she gets listeners onto her website she has an eBook for sale, an email list to sign up for, and various affiliate links to products mentioned on her show.

The aim of your podcast might be to earn some income (be that a full-time wage, or some extra income on top of your day job). It might be to promote yourself as an authority or industry expert. It might be to build an audience around your business or service, or it might simply be to have fun.

Whatever the aim is, just be sure to identify it. Ask yourself “Why am I doing this?”.

Again, once you're clear in your own mind about this, you can really focus on things that'll further these aims, and forget about the others that won't.

Doing the Groundwork

Hopefully, this has helped you make sure you're on the right track with your content. It's about getting the basics right, first and foremost.

Is it a lack of a solid foundation, rather than any type or lack of promotion, that could be holding you back from reaching new listeners?

If you're still struggling to nail this stuff down, I'd suggest checking out our main guide on how to start a podcast, which takes a deeper dive into laying the foundations of a successful podcast.

And as we continue our audience growth journey, the next thing I'd like to cover with you is how to create content that people will share. No type of marketing beats word of mouth, so let's take a look at the types of episodes you can create that your listeners will love to pass on to others.

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