Some say that the only way to truly find an audience is to make a fantastic podcast.
Most know that it’s not quite that simple. You can make a phenomenal podcast, but there’s no denying it: it’s a saturated market. Sometimes, no matter the quality of your podcast, it takes some extra steps to find and expand your audience.
Luckily, getting a start may not be as difficult as it seems. With a few quick tweaks and emails, you’ll be on the right track for finding and expanding your audience.
1. Think about your podcast avatar
First, think about your podcast avatar. If you’re not sure what your podcast avatar is, we have a handy guide on them here.
Before they start listening to your podcast, how does your podcast avatar want to hear about it? This will give you a guide on not only where to advertise, but also how.
Is your podcast avatar the kind of person who trusts critics more than they trust Apple Podcasts? Reach out to some people writing reviews for podcasts. Always be sure you check how and when critics want to be contacted about your show. If the critic has a website, read it thoroughly, and make sure you present yourself in a professional way.
Many people trust their friends’ recommendations above all else. There’s a way you can use this to your advantage, but we’ll talk about this more in the next section.
Is your podcast avatar the kind of person who’s scrolling through Instagram frequently? Maybe try advertising through Instagram. The same goes for Facebook, Twitter, etc.
But also think about how your podcast avatar would want to see an ad for your show. Would they want a succinct description of the podcast? Would they want something goofy and fun? Will they want pictures of the hosts, a reference to a piece of media, etc.?
Thinking about how your podcast avatar would want to learn about your podcast will help you think about how you can improve your reach. When you break it down to think about reaching just one person, it’ll be both more accurate and less daunting.
2. Think about your calls to action
Many podcast listeners start a new show because it was recommended to them by a friend. Again, this is especially true for people who don’t already listen to podcasts.
Most podcasters have a call for action that goes, “Make sure to subscribe and leave a rating on iTunes. It helps the algorithm see us!” I’m never sure which podcasters are doing this because more reviews look better and which podcasters are doing this because they think it’s true.
Let’s be clear: that’s probably not really the case. Reviews are great, of course, but why waste your call to action on something that might not help as much as it seems?
Instead of urging your audience to review your podcast very episode, try some other calls to action that could make more of an impact. A great place to start is asking your audience to recommend your podcast to one friend who would love it. You could even make an engagement-forward game out of it: tell your fans to recommend your podcast to a friend directly on Twitter and to @ mention your show in the tweet. Then, thank that listener in your next episode.
I’m not saying you need to stop asking for reviews entirely. Reviews do make an impact. They’re just not the only thing that makes an impact. There are other ways you could be asking your current audience to help your community flourish.
3. Use your hashtags wisely
When you post on social media, don’t just put whatever. Put some time and effort into how, when, and what you’re posting.
One of the biggest mistakes I see podcasters make on socials is their nonexistent, or just weird, use of hashtags.
When thinking about what hashtags to use, think about what hashtags people will actually be searching. People might search for #podcast, but that’s only going to get you listeners who already listen to podcasts. Why not also tag things that are important to your podcast? Look at what hashtags are important in your genre and industry and find clever ways to use some of them.
Don’t load your tweets with too many tags. Keeping it under 3 is usually a good number that doesn’t make it look like you’re just trying to capture anyone. But using just 3 means you should always be selective and wise about which you use.
This means dropping tags like #podernfamily, which is fine. #podernfamily is a confusing tag for audiences and creators alike. When choosing tags, make sure they’re tags people will actually be looking for, even/especially if they don’t already listen to podcasts.
4. Consider a promo swap
An underrated form of growing your audience is to pitch a promo swap with another like-minded podcast.
Remember that in podcasting, your peers are not your enemies. People who listen to podcasts usually listen to many podcasts, and they’re likely to listen to many podcasts in the same niche. I listen to an embarrassing number of podcasts about the Disney Parks. One being really great won’t make me stop listening to another.
Find podcasters who share a common audience with yours and see if they’d be interested in a promo swap. Promo swaps entail podcasters promoting each others’ work on their respective podcasts. You recommend their podcast, and they recommend yours. The nitty-gritty of these swaps–whether it’s in the episode, on social media, linked in an episode description, etc.–will vary agreement to agreement.
This is a great way to attract listeners who want to hear more like-minded shows but don’t know where to start.
Of course, the swap doesn’t just have to be with podcasters in your niche. Think about your podcast avatar again. What other topics would they be interested in? Find podcasts in that niche who might be interested in a swap, too.
Here’s a guide to creating a promo for your podcast too, if this is something you want to try out.
Growing your audience may seem impossible, but it’s easier than it might seem with a few quick adjustments.
What’s key is keeping your podcast avatar in mind. Having them in your head will help you direct your thinking when it comes to promotion. It also helps the whole ordeal seem less daunting, because you should only be thinking about that one person versus everyone.
Be wiser with your social media and your calls to action. Remember that reviews don’t actually matter in “the algorithm” right now, and that most prospective listeners aren’t searching tags like #podernfamily to find new shows.
Instead, try things that are likely to hit new listeners like asking your audience to recommend your show to a friend, or doing a promo swap with another podcast.
Learn from the experts
Want more help, like live Q&A’s and audience growth advice from some experts? Join us in our Podcast Host Academy! We’ve got courses, live sessions, and a vibrant community (where you might even try to find some podcaster friends to promo swap with)!