Updated: Jan 12
Okay, so you took my advice and you started a podcast to help spread your core message to the world.
But, let me guess, now you're wondering... how do I get people to listen?
Well, in honor of International Podcast Day, I've decided to share my top tips on growing your podcast audience; things I've learned not only as a podcaster and story coach to other podcasters, but as a writer creating copy for podcasts of all sizes, from those just starting out, to podcasts with listenership in the millions run by big-name companies like Microsoft.
Don't sit around and wait for your ideal audience to stumble upon your podcast!
They, like you, are busy. So you're going to need to help them find you.
First, you need to figure out where they spend their time online, and meet them where they're at. If your target audience is on Instagram, but you're trying to reach them on Twitter, there's a disconnect there.
I know it's more comfortable to stick with what you know, but if you want to be successful, you're going to need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable a lot of the time. If what you're doing isn't working, step out of your comfort zone and try something new.
Second, you need to capture their attention. Don't just post a link with generic copy like "Check out my latest episode."
There's a lot of content out there on the internetz. A LOT.
To cut through the noise, you need to show them the value they'll get by listening with a compelling image and click-worthy copy.
Write titillating Titles
Again, your audience has a vast array of things they could choose to spend their time on. So you want to make it as easy as possible for them to choose your podcast.
This begins, of course, with creating compelling content. But that's only the first step! You also need to help frame up that content for them so that they are intrigued enough to want to listen, and will listen in the right headspace to get the most out of your content.
Don't just name your episodes after that week's guest. Give each episode a title that gets right to the heart of what's being discussed. Ask yourself:
What is the main message or take-away from the episode as a whole?
What are the keywords or questions someone might search for to find content about that message?
Was there an evocative phrase or tag line that came up in the discussion that would make a good title?
It's a good idea to make a list of several possible titles before deciding on one. Not only will that get the ideas flowing, it'll provide multiple options in case you want to A/B test your titles to see what works best.
Craft gripping Descriptions
The episode description isn't just an explanation of what is discussed. It's a teaser-trailer designed to intrigue your audience and leave them with questions that can only be answered by listening to the episode.
Everything you experience in life, no matter how painful or difficult, has a gift for you. That's the message this week's guest is so committed to spreading that, in this episode, she shares a story she has never before told publicly: the story of the most painful experience of her life, and the incredible gift it ultimately brought her.
In this week's episode, our guest Natalie LeChevalier shares a story she has never before told publicly: the story of the car accident that took away her husband and permanently disfigured her. She also shares her struggles around the opioid addiction that ensued, and how she got her life back on track, ultimately becoming the inspiring motivational speaker she is today.
This is your back-of-the-book blurb, not a book report.
Break it Down
In addition to framing up the episode for your audience, you're going to want to pre-digest it a bit. This will not only help them find the content that's most relevant to them, it'll whet their appetite, encouraging new listeners and subscribers alike to want to hear more.
As you're listening back through your episode (which, if you're doing your own editing, you will definitely do at least once before publishing), mark down the time codes of the 5-15 most salient topics discussed.
This "highlight reel" can be added to your episode description to provide additional intrigue and help guide listeners directly to the bits they find most compelling. But again, make sure these are very high-level descriptions that don't give away the goods.
15:00 - The phoenix rises
15:03 - Natalie describes her experience in rehab and the fight to regain control of her life
Next, break your podcast into easily digestible morsels, and present these appetite-whetting amuses-bouches on your social media platforms.
I recommend breaking your podcast down into 3 or 4 video clips. These are relatively self-contained discussions on one overarching theme or subject. If you have video of the discussion, great. Use it. If not, you can use static images or b-roll footage from YouTube:
Then, break those clips down into quotes of one minute or less, for use on Instagram, Twitter, and anywhere else your audience is found.
Yes, that takes a good deal of time and effort.
Yes, there are absolutely companies that will do this for you, such as Suit Social (I contract with them as a podcast copywriter, so you know you're in good hands!).
But whether you do it or pay someone else to do it, I promise you it's worth it.
One of the best ways to build your audience is to collaborate with podcasters who already have an established audience with significant cross-over in terms of their interests.
Do a bit of research and find out who else is podcasting in your genre. Pick a few pods that have been around a bit longer than yours, and have more subscribers than you do. Then simply reach out to the hosts, and ask if they'd be interested in:
Being a guest on your podcast
Interviewing you on their podcast
Swapping promos: you send them a short promo to play or read on their show, and they send one to play/read on yours
Reciprocal reviews: you listen to their pod and leave a great review, and they do the same in return
Those are just a few of the ways you can collaborate with other podcasters. Be creative, and stay open to their suggestions as well.
Put Yourself Out There
In addition to doing trades and cross-promotions, you should be regularly appearing on other peoples' podcasts.
Not only will this give you more exposure, it'll give you more experience, and introduce you to a whole bunch of other podcast hosts.
Besides which, it's fun!
A great resource is the Facebook group Podcast-Guest Connection. I've used it to find guests, to find podcasts to be a guest on, and simply to forge connections with other podcasters.
Ask for What You Want
When I published my book, Melting Ivory, I was disappointed at the number of people who were reading the book without reviewing it.
"What am I doing wrong?" I asked a good friend and experience author.
"Well, what does your back matter say?" he asked in return.
"Your back matter. That page at the back of your book where you thank your readers for their time and ask them to please rate and review it."
My shocked silence answered both our questions.
If you want people to rate, review, and promote your podcast, you need to make sure you are explicitly, and repeatedly, asking them to do so.
Which reminds me, have you rated and reviewed the That's Aloud podcast on iTunes yet? If not, now's a great time to do so!
If you're doing all of the above and still not getting traction, let me know, in the comments or via email, what you're still struggling with. I'm here to help!