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Steps to Grow Your Podcast Audience

According to The Podcast Host, with only 13 percent of listeners finding a new podcast by browsing through a podcast chart or ‘featured’ section, it’s clear that podcast discovery is still largely dependent on word of mouth. It comes as no surprise then, that the most asked question from podcasters is ‘how do I grow my audience?’ But, with Apple Podcasts hosting upwards of 1.68 million podcasts, competition is tough.


What is podcasting?


The official podcasting definition is ‘the process of making digital recordings of radio programs that people can download from the internet’. It was developed back in 2004, when former MTV video jockey, Adam Curry, and software developer, Dave Winer, coded a program known as iPodder, which enabled them to download Internet radio broadcasts to their iPods. Since then, the podcasting industry has gone from strength to strength with podcast listeners in the UK alone reaching an estimated 15.6 million in 2020, according to the latest research


How do I start a podcast?


Once you’ve developed a podcast concept, the next step is to invest in some podcasting equipment (a podcasting microphone, mount, and headphones), a podcasting studio (if applicable), and some podcasting software for editing such as Adobe Audition. Although there are options to edit your podcast on your iPhone and Android, their small screens aren't optimal for sound editing. Audacity and GarageBand are among some good options for podcast recording and editing software. 


How do I expand my podcast audience?


If you’re just starting out, don’t expect to see huge numbers in the early days. As we’ve mentioned, competition in the podcasting industry is tough, and it may take some time for you to carve your niche and stand out from the crowd. The good news is that there are lots of ways you can increase your chances of attracting new subscribers. Here are some of our top tips.


Use SEO 


If you want people to find your podcast, step one is to make your podcast searchable. A podcast that’s featured #1 on the Google page will always attract more listeners than one that shows up on page 45. A memorable podcast name definitely helps, but you should also focus on maximising the SEO of your show’s search description using relevant keywords. Posting transcripts of each podcast episode is another great way to increase the visibility of your content, while also making it accessible to all users.


Create a landing page


If you have a website, why not create a landing page just for your podcast? As well as being a great way to get visitors to subscribe to your podcast, it’s also a page you can link to when promoting episodes on social media channels, newsletters, blog posts, and any other promotions you run. When designing the landing page, try to simplify the user journey as much as possible by having a clear call to action button and a short snippet encouraging people to listen to your podcast, for example, a video or sound clip, or feedback from existing listeners. 


Encourage interaction


The more reviews and comments your show has, the more likely people will want to listen. Asking for feedback — both on the podcast itself and through social media channels — will signal to podcast platforms and to Google that your show is worthwhile. Inviting your listeners to ask questions and taking time to answer them is another great way to encourage discussion around your podcast. You could host a Q&A episode, or publish a blog post on your website. Many podcasts also have dedicated Facebook pages, inviting listeners to come together and discuss topics in greater detail. 


Advertise


Want to attract a specific audience? Consider paid promotions on social media — a great way to target specific groups with interests in the topics you cover. Since these platforms are busy and distracting, invest some time in the design of your ad in order to cultivate short attention spans. It’s also worth testing out different ads before committing to a huge budget. If you know what people are searching for in your niche, and your show has an answer for that search, look into Google ads, too. And, of course, you could consider podcasting advertising.


Podcasting FAQs


How many listeners is good for a podcast?


There’s no right answer to this question — largely because podcast audiences are dependent on show topics. Say, for example, you start the world’s first podcast about teddy guinea pigs and you got 5 downloads per episode. You may be disappointed with that figure, but statistically speaking, you would be the host of the most popular show in the genre’s history. Also bear in mind that podcasting is long-form content. You may have had 20,000 likes on your latest Instagram photo, but that doesn’t mean you’ll see the same metrics for your podcast. While it takes less than a second to ‘like’ a photo, podcast listening is much more of a commitment.


How long does it take for a podcast to get popular?


‘The Daily’ by The New York Times is the world’s most popular podcast, but there was a time when no one in the world listened to it. How fast your podcast grows in terms of popularity depends on many factors — one being who you are and whether you are well-known in the public eye (being a celebrity usually helps). But as with most industries, overnight success is a bit of a miss. Unless they’ve had a leg up, the most popular podcasts are usually run by people who have built up their platforms from scratch and worked for several years to gain a bigger following. 


How do podcasts go viral?


You’ve probably guessed by now — there’s no shortcut for making a podcast going viral. But here are a few things that might help.


  • Make your content unique - people want to hear things they don’t already know about. Without any real hook, how do you expect people to care?
  • Find noteworthy guests - the most listened to podcast episodes usually have one thing in common, and that’s that they contain a famous guest. While that’s not a possibility for most of us, there’s nothing stopping you from hosting someone knowledgeable (or controversial).
  • Podcasting on YouTube - social media content tends to gain more views more quickly, so consider filming each episode and sharing on YouTube.
  • Use pull quotes to promote on social media - similarly, you can share short snippets on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, with a link to subscribe in your bio section.
  • Repurpose an episode into a blog post - particularly useful for complex topics that require more explanation. If there’s lots of information, a listicle is usually a good format to choose. 


The key thing to remember is that in order for going viral to be a possibility, your listeners need to be getting others to listen to the show. So spread the word!


To learn more about growing your audience with podcasting, book onto our course, where experts will show you how to successfully record, edit, and promote your podcast.



by Emma Gibbins | 22 Feb 21

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