How to Promote Your Podcast, Reach New Listeners, Build Your Audience and Find Your 1000 True Fans
2 Simple Steps to Creating a Successful Podcast
I want to give you my top-secret, extraordinarily powerful, 2-step formula that is practically guaranteed to help you build an incredibly successful podcast really fast, gets you lots of subscribers, tons of downloads and makes you a lot of money.
Ready? OK, here goes…
Step 1: Already be a successful and popular person with a big audience prior to starting a podcast.
Step 2: Let your existing audience know how to subscribe to your podcast.
That’s it! DONE! :-)
Tens of thousands (or at least thousands) of downloads right out of the gate. High ranking in Apple’s charts (no, not talking about “New & Noteworthy”, because that is not a ranking). Sponsors, big-media interviews, celebrity status...
BOOM! You now have a successful podcast!!
Alright alright... I was being super-sarcastic :-). That formula is not real, but you already knew that. But it is kinda true, though: Most podcasters (including myself, in the beginning), look at the successful shows, and think that all that’s required is to make a great show is to create great content that is exactly what your listeners want, publish regularly, on-time, same time each week, constantly remind your listeners to let their friends know, ask them to subscribe and leave a rating and a review, then maybe promote your show a few times on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and then just sit back and let the magical “word of mouth” come to life and pave the way for your show to hit the top of the Apple Podcasts (formerly “iTunes”) charts!
Yay! <insert record-scratch sound effect here>
Unfortunately, “create a great show and they will eventually come” is not a scalable strategy. Word-of-mouth marketing can often be a bit overrated. When was the last time you saw a regular person – repeat... a regular person, and not a podcaster – recommend somebody’s podcast on their Facebook feed, or post about it on Instagram? Or when did you last walk into a party with regular people, and the topic turned to each person talking about their favorite podcast? I certainly haven't seen it happen, and most people I’ve asked haven’t seen it either. I'm sure it does happen, and it will happen more as podcasts become more main-stream. But can you afford to wait for it? And will that be enough to move the needle.
So forget about painfully slow “organic growth”. Your podcast is not your retirement account where you wait for a long time to reap the benefits. You’ve got to take control, and you’ve got to make things happen,. You’ve got to promote and market your show.
Yeah, I know. To the creative person, self-promotion probably feels like you have to turn into a car salesman – maybe even makes you want to take a shower. But there’s a reason why the cliché “starving artist” exists - because “artistry” (which is what a podcaster is at her core) and “marketing” don’t usually go well together for most people. That is why a lot of talented, creative folks don’t achieve much commercial success – because they’re more focused on creating, than promoting.
And you may not want any commercial success. But you do want to grow your show, don't you? And if you are really passionate about your podcast, then you probably want to do it more - do it all the time. Maybe even do it full-time. Which means, it has to pay the bills - at least some of them - at some point.
So if you wish to have more than just a side-hobby that makes you a few dollars to pay for your podcast hosting and a few cool toys, then you’ve got to learn to promote and market your show. You've got to become a better marketer. Sitting around waiting for your listeners to organically refer other listeners, is like planting a seed, and then waiting to watch it grow into a tree. Sure, it will eventually grow into a big beautiful tree and bear delicious fruit, but your family is going to starve if that fruit is how you plan on feeding your family in the near future!
Ryan Gray from MedEdMedia.com conveyed this idea brilliantly, in a post on Facebook:
"If you’re struggling to find listeners, ask yourself what you have done to get them. I just took a flight to another state. Paid for a banner, tablecloth, t-shirts, stickers and more to get in front of my audience for a couple hours.
I used to do this back before I left my job and before I was making money. No excuses. Go do it!"
It's not enough to just Create. You've got to learn to Promote.
A Shot in the Dark
ROI, as you know, stands for "Return On Investment". Generally speaking, if you invest in something, you then track the returns, and then you figure out whether or not it was worth it.
If it was a positive ROI, then you do more of it. And if it's a negative ROI, then you can investigate it, tweak it, test it, and worst-case, do less of it.
Like, say, you started on a special diet. Or a new workout-routine. One way to measure your ROI is to check your body weight, glucose levels, body-fat percentage, blood pressure, etc. So whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve, you have a way to test for the results, and know if your new routine (or a tweak to your existing routine) is working.
But what if there was no way to measure your weight, or glucose levels, or blood pressure, or heart-rate? What if there was no way for you to know if what you’re doing is working, or hurting?
What if there was no way to track the returns?
What if you keep investing, but can't see the changes, can't track the results, can't predict if it's working?
Like a shot in the dark - you know the target, but you don't know where it is, how far it is, or if your shots are going anywhere even close to it!
That’s one the biggest issue with podcasting right now.
With a regular web site, you can put Google Analytics code on it, look at your analytics, page-views, bounce-rate, email conversions, sales conversions, eye-tracking heat-map software to see which parts of your page are getting the most attention (and which the least), ability to know how long a video has been played, page scrolling, exit-intent, retargeting, and on and on and on – so many different ways to monitor traffic, behavior, engagement and conversions. Almost none of that is possible with your podcast.
After many years of keeping everything locked up inside a black-box, Apple has finally opened up some stats for podcasts subscribed-to and listened-to via the Apple Podcasts app. You can check out your stats at Podcastsconnect.apple.com, assuming you’ve already submitted your show to the Apple Podcasts directory (formerly known as “iTunes”).
And while the Apple Podcasts app is currently the most popular app among regular podcast listeners by an overwhelming majority (around 60% - source: Libsyn's "The Feed" show), among power-listeners, the app is not very good when it comes to usability - yes, it feels weird to say that about an Apple product. The app doesn’t innovate much, if at all, and has historically been known to be very slow in introducing power-features like speed-listening and social sharing, and very slow in listening to user feedback. Plus its search functionality is so primitive that it feels more like a circa-1995 Yahoo website, than that of one created by the world’s richest companies.
So podcast listeners who are more tech- and web-savvy, are leaving the Apple Podcasts app in droves, and moving on to other far-better apps like OverCast.fm (iOS) and Podcast Addict (Android), among others. And Spotify is now the fastest-growing newcomer to the podcasting world, and looks to be poised to take a big bite out of the "Apple"-pie (get it? :-).
There have been no indications from any non-Apple podcast apps or directories (iOS or Android) - or other streaming apps like Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora and Tune-In Radio - about offering podcasters any kind of listener-stats.
So yes, it's a great start from Apple. But right now, these stats are available only from Apple, and even those are still rather incomplete, confusing, and in some cases, seem almost incorrect. There are still tens of other great podcast apps and podcast directories which still don’t offer any insights into the listening behavior, and there’s no indication if they’re even likely to offer those anytime soon.
So we’re probably still many years away from getting any kind of deep, unified, consolidated insights into the listener-stats that is even remotely comparable to what you can get from, say, Google Analytics, for your website.
Until then, we podcasters have a massive tracking problem on our hands. And as the saying goes...
What cannot be tracked cannot be measured.
What cannot be measured cannot be improved.
What cannot be improved cannot be optimized.
And if you want to pay to promote your podcast, it's really hard right now to justify paying for something that is a black-box, and something that is not easy to track the returns on.
Sure, there are some basic ways to know if your show is growing:
- Downloads: This is the easiest one: Downloads per episode. Track how many downloads you get for each episode for up to 30 days after you’ve released it.
- Subscribers: After you publish an episode, don’t promote it on Social Media or anywhere else, for about 3 days. Track how many downloads you get within those first 3 days – preferably don’t include weekends and national holidays in those 3 days. Whatever number you get, is a reasonable “guesstimate” of how many “subscribers” you have – which is, how many people have actually “subscribed” to your show via your Podcast RSS Feed. Like someone who actually “subscribers” to your email list so that they can get all of your newsletters and updates. Some podcast hosts like Libsyn and BluBrry also provide you “User-agent” stats that show you how many downloads came from Apple Core Media (iPhones, iPads, Macs), Chrome/Firefox/Safari, iTunes, etc. So you could also look at the user-agent data to figure out where your listeners are coming from.
- Engagement: Hardest stat to track. You may have a lot of listeners, but not all of them will respond to your calls-to-action. Doesn’t mean they’re not hanging on to every word you say. That just shows you the difficulty of the medium when it comes to getting someone who listens to your call-to-action while they’re driving home from work, or out on a run, to come home and remember to act on your call-to-action. I have a section in my book that talks about this issue, and how to get your listeners to engage with your show better.
So it becomes hard to pour money into something for which you cannot track the performance or progress. And that is why it is easier to create something more tangible – like a “lead magnet” to build an email list – and promote that, because now, you can track the interest of someone arriving at that page and measure the results and test and tweak.
The simplest idea is this: If they won’t give you an email address for a “free” thingie, then they may not pay for your products and services down the line.
Obviously, to get someone to sign up to a free email list, there are so many components that go into it – a highly, optimized landing page design, a great offer, great copy, great headline, great benefit etc. So just because they don’t sign up doesn’t mean they’re not interested. However, assuming your form is even barely decent, a great offer should get someone interested in at least giving you their email id. In the report, I talk about creating a great lead-magnet as well.
And the biggest thing about Kevin Kelly’s “1000 True Fans” concept, is that your true fans, will buy everything you create. Not just sign-up for free stuff. But more on that in the report.
So there are some things you need to do, in order to work-around the inherent ROI-challenges in podcasting. And that’s what this e-Book is about.
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- Ravi Jayagopal
P.S: I'm using some of the strategies in my book on this very page - and you'll know what those are when you read my free report.
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