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Podcast Promotion: From Your First 100 Listeners to Your Next 100K!

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Podcast promotion is on many podcasters’ minds, even before launching their first episode.

It’s true that the best way to grow an audience is to create great content. But it’s rarely as simple as that. If you never do any podcast promotion, then it’s unlikely your show will fulfil its true potential.

Building a bit of marketing into your workflow from day one is advisable. There are loads of different ways to promote a podcast – some may appeal to you, others might not. The aim here is that you can pick and choose the ones that feel like the best fit. With podcast promotion, there’s no silver bullet and no shortage of trial and error. But, armed with these tips, you’ll be ready to go out there and double, treble, or even quadruple your downloads – if you’re willing to put the work in.

So, let’s crack on with our ultimate guide to podcast promotion. Here’s a list of the various routes, strategies, and options gathered together in one place. You can pick a few and try them over time to see what works for you and what doesn’t.

Podcast Promotion Starts With Your Existing Audience

The first point – and the most important one at that – is knowing exactly who you want to reach.

This is all part of the podcast planning process. Check out how to make your podcast unique, and your ideal podcast listener for more on this.

You also need to know what you want beyond simple download and traffic spikes.

You could spend a lot of time or money promoting your show in the wrong place or the wrong way and end up with a significant (but temporary) increase in listens.

Podcasters want their target audience to hit follow and stay with the show beyond one episode. If you don’t know your audience, though, how will you get your content in front of the right people?

Don’t mistake one-off clicks for growth. You’ll only be disappointed when your stats return to normal the next week.

Who (& Where) Are Your Target Audience?

So now, ask yourself, “Where are my target listeners?”

For example, if very few of them are on Instagram, why spend time trying to promote your show there? Maybe they tend to hang out on other social media channels like X/Twitter, Threads, and Facebook. Or it could be that your potential audience doesn’t use social media at all.

With the following podcast promotion methods, you need to think about which ones are likely to get you in front of your target audience and which ones could be a waste of time.

But one place you certainly will find your target audience is at the end of each of your episodes. Those loyal folks who listen right to the end are your biggest fans, and they’ll be willing to help you out if you ask in the right way. That means honing in on your Calls to Action…

Calls to Action (CTAs)

Two of the most common podcast promotion mistakes are;

  1. to overlook those who are already listening
  2. to waste your Calls to Action

Even if you’ve ‘only’ got 20 regular listeners, that’s 20 people who can help you reach a much bigger audience.

You can ask your listener for your Call to Action (CTA) at the end of each episode. You’ve served them with great content, they’ve really enjoyed and benefited from it, and now, you can ask them for a small favour.

Many podcasters ask for reviews because they think that’ll help the podcast grow. Sure, they can be great social proof, and we’ll talk more about that shortly. But don’t focus exclusively on reviews in your CTAs.

Instead of urging your audience to review your podcast each episode, try some other CTAs that could make more of an impact. A great place to start is by asking your audience to recommend the show to one friend they think would enjoy it.

You could even make an engagement-forward game out of it: tell your fans to recommend your podcast to a friend directly on social and to tag your show in the post. Then, thank that listener in your next episode.

A final note on this is to make it easy to share your show. Don’t leave it up to your listeners to link to it on some obscure podcast aggregator that nobody else uses, or will click on. Instead, you’ll want to create a good shareable website for your podcast and optimise it for growth. We’re going to talk about how to do that just shortly.

Before that, though, let’s see how we can get more actionable info from your existing audience.

podcast promotion - surveying your audience

Audience Surveys

This isn’t a strategy for brand-new podcasters who don’t yet have an audience. But if you’ve been running a show for six months or more, you can get some invaluable growth insights from an audience survey.

Your existing fans can tell you a lot about your show. For example, how or where did they discover it? If many listeners find you in the same place or way, you can do more of it.

Likewise, if you’ve just spent $100 on an ad campaign and literally not one person discovered you that way, you can save yourself the money in future.

You can ask your listeners what things they like about the show. What topics do they like you to cover? What would they like to hear in future episodes? Give them a place to tell you all their likes and dislikes, and then tailor your content around that data going forward. It’s a lot better than trying to guess what your listeners want!

Optimising Your Website for Podcast Growth

A great podcast can still suffer from having a poor website associated with it.

Many podcasters limit their show’s growth by overlooking some low-hanging website-based fruit. You want to enable your audience and traffic to help you grow.

If you don’t have a home for your show yet, check out our ultimate podcast website guide, which covers the whys, hows, and wheres.

But here are some important things to consider right off the bat;

  • Do you have an About page where you sell the benefits of why people should listen? What’s in it for them?
  • Do you have a Subscribe page where you link to podcast directories like Apple, Google Podcasts, & Spotify? You could even explain here why and how to subscribe to the show.
  • Do you have a Contact page listing how folks can get in touch? Stick your email address and social media links here.
  • Do you have a media kit page?
  • Do you have social sharing buttons on your posts? You want to make it easy for your listeners to promote your episodes.
  • Is your domain name descriptive or memorable and easy to spell?
  • And does your site display properly on mobile and tablet?

Be sure to create a short promo trailer for your podcast and embed it on your homepage, too. That way, potential listeners on your site can get a taster of the show immediately!

SEO & Google Search for Podcast Promotion

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation.

No matter how or where you set up your website, you now have a base to create searchable content that can rank and be found on Google.

If you’re using WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin is a great tool for optimising your shownotes. It’s worth checking out this full guide on how to make your podcast SEO-friendly, too.

Of course, a huge part of this is your episodes’ actual names and titles, so how do we make the most of those?

Episode Titles

The way you title your episodes has a significant impact on your overall download numbers.

The worst thing you can do is to use a naming system like “Episode 6” or “The Whatever Podcast – Episode 6”. You don’t need your show title in there at all. And simply labelling content with numbers does nothing to tempt anyone to listen. It gives no hint of what’s on offer, so there’s no incentive to hit play.

Be as descriptive about the ‘hook’ of each episode as you can. It all depends on the content, but statistically, the most successful titles are things like “How to…”, “5 ways to…”, “7 tips for…”, etc. Those Buzzfeed roundups do well for a reason…

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should try to shoehorn these episodes if they’re not a good fit for your show. Just be as descriptive as possible. Let your target audience know at a glance this is the show they’ve been looking for.

For examples of ultra-descriptive episode titles, check out our show Pocket-Sized Podcasting.

Creating Great Blog Podcasts Around Your Episodes

The blog post you write around each episode is also called your podcast show notes. The more detailed and helpful these are, the more they can work as stand-alone content to get your show in front of new people.

Add links to any tools or resources mentioned in your episodes, and Google will appreciate that, too. Some folks recommend copying full episode transcriptions into your show notes, but this content is often badly written – we talk very differently to how we speak, after all. Instead, it’s better to make your transcripts available elsewhere and clearly link to them in your shownotes.

Here’s our full guide to writing great podcast show notes for a deeper dive on that topic.

Email Marketing

When we ran our podcaster cares survey, 40% of respondents agreed that “any serious podcaster must run an email list”.

If you’re a “serious podcaster” and don’t, though, there’s no need to go on the defensive about this. If you’ve no time or enthusiasm for email marketing, then it’s better not to do it.

However, if you can muster the time and motivation, email is a great way to keep in touch with your listeners.

“But I already do that with my podcast episodes” is a valid answer to this. The thing about audio, though, is that CTAs are tricky. Often, our listeners are busy doing other things whilst we chat to them in their earbuds. Very few are looking at their screen or in a position to immediately click any link.

So, an email list can act as the perfect complement to your show. You can use it to mail out your show notes or any other offers, competitions, or sales you’re currently running.

If you’re interested in setting up or improving your email marketing strategy, our full guide has you covered!

Podcast Promotion Through Advertising

If you’re a traditionalist, you might see podcast promotion as simply paying to get it in front of some new eyeballs.

And advertising your podcast can be a great way to kickstart your growth if you have some budget behind you.

You can pay for podcast ads to promote your show in many places. It’ll always depend on your topic and audience, but these range from Google and social media ads to newsletters and print magazines.

Podcast promotion: Overcast Advertising Results
Advertising on the Overcast podcast listening app.

One of the most effective ways we’ve found so far is on the podcast listening app Overcast. Here’s the lowdown (and our data) on Overcast advertising.

Other podcast apps offering ads include Pocket Casts, Podcast Addict, and Podbay. You can find full details in our podcast advertising guide.

However, a creative “Guerrilla Marketing” campaign might be the best option for those with little or no budget!

What About Social Media Platforms Like Facebook?

I’m against the idea that podcasters must use social media. But if you use particular social media channels, these can certainly be used as podcast promotion avenues alongside your other strategies.

The same rules apply here with any form of content, though. If you’re just constantly shouting, “Hey everyone, check out my podcast!” then you’re going to be another meaningless voice amongst a very loud noise.

Facebook isn’t the goliath it once was, but its ‘groups’ feature can still be an excellent place to find or create communities around your topic or niche. If you can contribute to these in a way that’s positive and helpful to others, your podcast can find new listeners as a result.

You can also use micro-content to run effective Facebook ads. Or, you might opt for a platform like Instagram to pay for some potential traffic. But I’d recommend starting with a very small budget and only investing more if you see promising results.

Using Your Podcast Reviews As Marketing Material

As mentioned earlier, podcast reviews can be great social proof for your shows. Here are some tips and tactics for getting more podcast reviews. Once you actually have a few, you can start sharing them, too.

This is much better than you telling people how great your show is – now, you have other people to do it for you.

I know I’ve just finished poking fun at the irradiated wastes of social media, but there are still some tactful and elegant ways to share your reviews on any platforms you’re active on. Even bad podcast reviews can be used humorously as part of your podcast promotion toolkit.

You can use podcast reviews on your website, or on your podcast merch. You can even grow your podcast by writing podcast reviews for other shows.

Collaboration & Cross-Promotion

Selling Podcast Merch

On the subject of merch, many podcasters see this predominantly as a monetisation strategy rather than a podcast promotion tactic. And, whilst it’s true that it can be both, it’s usually more effective as the latter.

The vast majority of podcasters use third-party print-on-demand stores to create and sell their merch. This means that prices can be high and profit margins low.

If you run a merch store in this way, it’s worth selling stuff as cheaply as possible to maximise the amount of it out there in the wild. After all, every t-shirt, sticker, or mug with your logo is like a little billboard for your show.

Here’s our full guide to running a podcast merch store, as well as our podcast monetization roundup for more effective ways to earn some pennies from your show.

Collaboration & Cross-Promotion

If other podcasters cover similar topics, you don’t need to see these shows as your competition.

It’s not like old-style TV, where folks had to watch one or the other. Podcast listeners subscribe to lots of different shows, and they’ll usually be based on similar subjects.

So, what active podcasts are putting out content for the same target audience as you? Why not draw up a list and reach out to the people behind them?

Here’s our full guide on podcast collaboration and cross-promotion, with 18 actionable tips.

Working together can help share your collective audiences, which will benefit everyone. Here are some top-level suggestions:

Swap Trailers

You might initially consider doing a ‘promo swap’, where you each play the other show’s promo trailer on an episode or two.

Create Content Together

You could look at collaborating on some podcast content. A common way of doing this is to co-host an episode together, which is then published to both of your feeds.

Build a Montage Episode

If there are a handful of podcasters in your niche that you’re in touch with, you could also create a montage episode. This is where you reach out to them with a question and have them answer it in an audio form. Then, you piece these together into a single episode.

For example, a writing podcast might ask, “What’s your best tip for overcoming writer’s block?”. Or a health podcast might ask, “What does your morning routine look like?”.

Montage episodes are well shared amongst everyone involved. In turn, everyone’s audience gets a boost as a result!

Create Content for (Or About) Others

This follows from the collaboration angle and is also based on creating shareable content.

Guest Posting

A popular way to promote your podcast is to post a guest blog on a site with a similar target audience. With a guest post, you’re creating insightful and helpful content for their readers and, in turn, can link back to your own content.

Reviews

You can also create content that’ll be well-shared by reviewing a product or service you like. For example, if you do a cooking podcast and use a specific type of whisk, you could review it on an episode, then get in touch with the company that makes it and let them know. The chances are, they’ll share it with their own audience, many of whom will be interested in your show.

Guesting on Another Podcast

Another way of creating content for others is to be a podcast guest on their interview show. However, it’s not as easy as approaching someone and saying, “Hey, bring me on, please!”.

If you’d like to be interviewed on a specific podcast, give them a thorough proposal on what you can offer their listeners. What unique insights can you bring to the table? Personalise this to the show’s format and previous episodes. Only reach out to podcasts you’ve actually listened to.

You might even want to make your proposal in video rather than in written form. This will be much more likely to resonate with the podcaster. It’ll also set you apart from the many other requests they might get in.

Here are some useful tips on how to get booked as a guest on a podcast.

Visibility Through Financial Support

Just like the traditional advertising route of podcast promotion, you might be able to dedicate a small budget towards gaining extra visibility.

You could literally sponsor another podcast in your niche or wider topic. If done well, this could be a very effective way of gaining new listeners.

Some shows run Patreon accounts (other crowdfunding platforms are available), and rewards often include being mentioned on their episodes or website. If you find a popular show with such a reward tier in your niche, you could chuck some money their way.

This route doesn’t only apply to other podcasts, either. Perhaps there’s a charity in your niche you could support? An example of this could be a tabletop wargaming podcast supporting a veterans’ charity. Or a writers’ show supporting an organisation that helps fund books for kids in socially deprived neighbourhoods.

Obviously, with charities, it’ll be more of a reciprocity thing than a direct transaction of money for promotion. You’ll need to be respectful here and keep in mind that this is an ongoing relationship rather than a service.

Create Shareable Videos

Audio is notoriously hard to “go viral” because it’s long-form and non-visual. A good way to make your audio more shareable on platforms that cultivate short attention spans is to turn it into short video clips. The most popular way of doing this is with Audiograms. Perhaps the most innovative and fun approach here, though, is to have a clip from your show turned into a cartoon!

In-Person Podcast Promotion

Believe it or not, promoting your podcast away from the screen is possible!

For starters, are there in-person events in your area based on your topic? If you join a local club or society, you’ll naturally meet folks interested in what you do.

Are there any conferences or conventions happening in the next year? Why not inquire about running a booth or organising a session, panel, or workshop?

Finally, you can use the montage episode idea to promote your show in person with Vox pops. Vox pops are basically just clips of numerous folk answering the same question. You can record vox pops anywhere, from a dedicated event to out in the street.

If you go down this route, give each person you speak to a business card promoting your podcast. Let them know that this is where they’ll hear the finished piece. Most of them will be keen to check it out!

The Podcast Promotion Guide

Hopefully, that’s given you plenty of ideas and tips for drawing up your own promotional strategy. Combine these approaches with creating great, unique content, and you’ll be well on your way to running a successful podcast.

Remember, if you haven’t done so already, check out our article on what’s a good number of downloads for a podcast. Setting realistic goals and expectations is important to avoid disillusionment with your show.

And be sure to join us in the IndiePod Community, where you can discuss your latest growth plans and strategies with an enthusiastic group of like-minded podcasters. We’d love to see you in there.

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