So far in this series, we've hopefully helped to set your audience size expectations, as well as making sure that you're getting the basics right with your show and are building on solid foundations.
With that all established, we can now move on to the content that you came here for – what sort of specific things can you do to start getting in front of more people and growing your audience?
In this chapter we're going to talk about making podcast episodes that others want to share. These are tried and tested structures, and they don't just apply to podcasting, so if you run a blog or video series this is every bit as relevant to your chosen medium.
Putting a list together is a great way to have your episode shared by the people you mention in that list. Like everything, this starts with your topic.
What are your 5 favourite other podcasts in your niche? What are the top 7 blogs writing about the same subject you're posting about? Or what about the 10 books that inspired you the most in your own area of expertise?
Running through a list and talking about each thing you've chosen to include is a fun episode to do. Even more importantly, your audience will love it because its giving them loads of other things to check out that sound interesting and helpful to them.
Once you've put an episode like this out, be sure to tell those included about it. There's a good chance they'll share it, and that can result in their own audience checking your show out.
A popular type of structure in a niche that involves any type of gear or equipment. It's pretty simple – try out two similar (competing) products and give your feedback on them.
In podcasts about podcasting the “microphone shootout” is a common episode. The host will compare things like the price, durability, functions, features, aesthetics, and sound quality of two different microphones.
This can apply to almost any niche however, from cycling and fitness, to gaming or knitting. If you know your topic well enough, it should be pretty easy to come up with a few potential episodes in this format.
So why is this type of episode so shareable? Mainly because people want to appear informed and helpful, and will retweet posts like this often even without clicking on them. Whilst that alone certainly doesn't give you more listeners, it gets you in front of more potential listeners, and hopefully a few of them will click, listen, and subscribe to your show.
Instead of comparing one product to another, you can instead focus exclusively on one piece of equipment or gear. The review can extend far beyond that, though; you can review films, books, albums, websites, place, or even other podcasts. Again, it all comes down to your topic. What kind of reviews are going to appeal to – and ultimately help – your audience?
Creating a review can actually be quite tricky at first. You need to keep your integrity by being honest, but at the same time you need to be tactful enough not to create enemies (especially if you're reviewing something someone else does as a labour of love).
Carefully weigh up the pros and cons. Try to find at least some positives in things you don't like, and look for any weaknesses in things that initially might appear perfect.
The Case Study
A case study differs from a review because it uses examples of someone doing something, or an event taking place.
A cycling podcast, for example, might take a deep dive into how one cyclist prepared for and won a certain tournament. A podcast about podcasting might do a case study on how a famous show built a million download plus audience. Or a football podcast might chronicle the journey of a team of underdogs from a small village who won a national trophy.
Doing a case study is a great opportunity to tell as story, and people love stories. You want to hit certain beats, so you can almost think of it like a film. Imagine a case study relevant to your topic, and now run through the following questions.
- Who is the hero, or ‘protagonist'?
- Why will your audience relate or be sympathetic to them?
- What is their ambition?
- What are their main motivations?
- What are the big obstacles in their way?
- What are they doing differently?
- At what moment does it look like they've failed? The classic “all is lost” moment that's found in almost every film.
- How do they turn things around?
- How do they achieve their goal? Or maybe they fall short. If so, why was that?
- What is the outcome of it all? What impact does it have? What changes take place because of it?
This is the framework to tell a story that's compelling, and also valuable in the lessons that it teaches. If done well, people who hear it will want to share it without a second thought.
You can also do the case study as an interview, if you're doing it about a person who's still alive, and also willing to come on your show. Having someone tell their story in their own words can be incredibly powerful, but being able to draw a story out of an interviewee is still a skill that comes with practice.
Not everyone with a great story is a great interviewee either, so there's no definite better way here. It all depends on your topic and the case studies you'd like to cover.
You don't necessarily need to look at your guests as case studies though. You might just be looking for someone to come on and answer some questions on a topic that they're an expert in. Be wary of trying to completely separate who a person is from the knowledge they have though. Your listeners will be more receptive towards hearing from someone who's actually human.
Exploring a bit about a guest's background, and how they came to learn what they know, can really reinforce the info you're providing to your listeners. Ask about events and experiences, and they'll deliver their knowledge in story form instead of listing facts and figures.
Not only will this make the content shareable for the listeners that have taken loads from it, your interviewee will enjoy it and want to share it with their own audience too. Once you publish an interview episode, remember to send them a link and let them know it's live.
In the next chapter we're going to take a look at how we can make it as easy as possible for your audience to share this great content you've created. Once your listeners start doing your promotion for you then you know you're playing a really important role in your own niche or community, so it's important not to make them jump through a lot of hoops to do it. This all comes down to one thing – your website.
In the meantime, now that we've gone through some ideas for creating shareable episodes, you should have plenty to go and think about. Try writing down 2 or 3 ideas for each type of episode within your own niche or topic. What kinds of lists, comparisons, reviews, case studies, or interviews would be really valuable to your audience? Let me know in the comments section below.