Five things to avoid if you want to grow your podcast
The Podcast Host is a podcast marketing hub for individuals and businesses who seek to nurture an audience, build trust and grow a revenue through their show or their products. They also run Alitu – the ‘Podcast Maker’ app that helps non-techy folks to easily edit and publish their podcasts! We asked their ‘Content Thresher,’ Lindsay Harris Friel, to share some top tips to help grow your podcast.
Launching a podcast is not as tough as it might seem. The most difficult part of podcasting is, first, getting your audience to grow, and then, sustaining that growth over time. We all know that nothing is a success overnight, and podcasts are probably the most shining example of that concept. Compared to maintaining an audience, and your own enthusiasm, launching a podcast is easy.
Podcasters tend to fall into traps; all creative workers do. You can avoid them, however. Some of these traps are unique to podcasters, but other creative types might benefit as well. Let’s take a look at 5 things to avoid if you want to grow your podcast
1. Playing The Numbers Game
Some podcasters try to quantify success through their download numbers, chart rankings, and how many social media followers they seem to have. Hitting refresh buttons on demographics dashboards and hoping for some elusive score is just going to make you tired. Don’t look at statistics more than once a day (if that). Use the time, instead, to connect with the listeners you already have. Or to plan future episodes.
2. Social Media Overload or Avoidance
It’s true that a lot of podcasters use their social media channels to advertise episodes, communicate with their audience, and learn new information about their podcast’s topic. Unfortunately, social media platforms are meant to be addicting. How many times have you looked up from your screen and been surprised to see how much time had passed?
Some podcasters feel that it’s impossible to let people know about their show without social media. Paid advertising is expensive, and a good social media post can perform just as well as an ad. You don’t have to eliminate social media use completely.
A good strategy for social media is to set up a certain amount of time you’re willing to spend on social media per day or week, and stick to it. Set a timer, or use a screen time app to limit yourself, if you need help building a habit. Planning posts and responses in advance makes you share higher-quality, more mindful content, rather than just responding to the general chatter.
3. Taking Your Audience for Granted
Some people might feel disappointed if they only had five listeners. What if those five listeners love your show, and each of them convinced a friend to listen? What if they each told a friend? What if one of them were fabulously wealthy, and they gave you a thousand bucks a month, just to keep making your podcast? What if one of them let you borrow their vacation villa in the Seychelles for six weeks, so you can plan and write your next podcast season? I’d be pretty thrilled about those five listeners.
Typically, podcast audiences are small and loyal. You shouldn’t expect everyone to like your podcast, but those who do will care about your work a lot. They’re your best marketing team. When they reach out to you, thank them, and ask how they found out about the show. Mention listeners who reach out in your episodes with a quick thanks, if your show format supports it.
Some people worry so much about getting more subscribers and followers that they forget about nurturing the audience they already have. And, while we’re on the subject of word of mouth…
4. Making Your Interview Guests Into Your Marketing Team
It’s possible that if you interview a guest with a huge social media following, some of those followers might become your followers too. But, there isn’t a transitive mathematical property when it comes to social media followers and podcast audiences. Unfortunately, some podcasters believe that this is the case. If you have X number of followers on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, you upload your interview with a guest who has Y number of followers, don’t expect that by Friday, your follower count will balloon to X+Y. Guests aren’t under an obligation to promote your show to their followers. If they do, it’s very kind of them. Don’t expect them to.
Make sure that your interview is prepared, your guest is comfortable, and you have the right recording setup and gear. That way, your guest will have a good experience in your interview. They’ll probably mention the episode on social media voluntarily, which is better for you in the long run. Plus, you’ll get a better interview, which is what you really want.
5. Unrealistic Definitions of Success
When you make a podcast, you don’t get to hear applause, laughter, or any kind of audience reaction. It’s hard to know if your podcast is meaningful to others. You have to define for yourself what success would look like. Make sure that goal is specific, and something you can take action to achieve. Saying, “I want to be a rich and famous podcaster” is nebulous. Saying, “I want to create and upload fifty episodes within one year,” is something you can actually achieve. Some realistic goals would be:
- Convincing one person per month to review your podcast on Apple Podcasts or Podchaser
- Conversing with three audience members in the first month about how they found your podcast
- Celebrating or promoting a special moment in one of your episodes with a different kind of media, such as an audiogram or an image on social media.
Bonus Tip: Never Let The Cat Near Your Computer
Here’s a piece of specific podcasting advice which I learned the hard way, and hope you never have to endure. It is a truth universally acknowledged that whatever object you are paying a lot of attention to, the cat will investigate. Oh, they might seem cute, and like they just want to cuddle with you while you’re working. Be warned. The day will come that you’re an hour deep into editing dialogue waveforms trying to create the perfect audio experience, and the cat will lightly step its tender little paw onto the power button to your computer’s power strip. Save your work often, back up your data, and invest in the most impressive cat tree that you can afford. That way, they’ll lounge on it, instead of your work.
In all seriousness: don’t discount the potential for emotional impact when you make a podcast. It’s pretty easy to get lost in weighing the number of hours and dollars spent versus the number of downloads and tweets. What’s important is the connection that you make. Your podcast listeners are letting you into their heads. Treat them like partners in a conversation, and make your best content, and you’ll grow your podcast audience in a way that helps you grow, too.
Finally, if you’re struggling with your podcast editing (either through lack of time, or lack of technical know-how), be sure to check out Alitu. That’s our ‘podcast maker’ tool that’ll help you automate the production and publishing side of things. Sign up for a free trial and see what you think!
Lindsay earned an MFA in Playwriting from Temple University in Philadelphia, and took her live theatre skills straight to podcasting. She enjoys helping people find new ways to tell their stories. When she’s not writing content or participating in the Live Q&As for The Podcast Host, she enjoys making audio drama and learning more about the craft of interactive storytelling.
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