The casual podcast fan might only be familiar with Joe Rogan because of his massive deal with Spotify. But what they might not realize is that Rogan also recently published his 1,555th podcast episode with Kanye West. That’s a lot of podcast episodes to get the show to a point where Spotify wants to license your content for $100 million dollars.
There are roughly 850,000 active podcasts in the US with more than 30 million total episodes. While everyone dreams of a Joe Rogan-like deal, the reality is that most podcasters are trying to rack up a few hundred listeners per episode. The average podcast gets 141 downloads in the first 30 days of it being live. To get into the top 5% of all podcasts, you’ll need 9,000 downloads in that first 30 days. The question is, how can you make that leap from a hundred listeners to 9,000?
Today we’re going to look at different tactics you can use to build your audience on a consistent basis. For now, we’re not going to consider variables like your show’s category, audio quality, or podcast format. We’re focusing on tactics that anyone with an existing podcast can apply to start building their listener base.
Friends and Family
Just like an entrepreneur might ask friends or family for initial funding for their new company, ask your friends and family to listen to your podcast. Yes, you might feel a little lame, but your friends and family are going to support you. My first few dozen listeners were all definitely people I knew. They also gave me some really good feedback on my show’s quality. It was a low stakes way of trying to find your podcast’s voice.
Promote on Linkedin
I’m sure that to get your first friends and family listeners, you’ll blast your Facebook and Instagram accounts with your show’s information. But Linkedin is a little bit different. It’s fast becoming a much more relevant traffic driver. According to Econsultancy, 64% of traffic from social media channels to corporate websites comes from Linkedin. In contrast, Facebook is at 17% and Twitter 14%. While Linkedin might not be your favorite social network, it’s a powerful tool to driving episode listens.
Promote on Pinterest
Yes, I am splitting Pinterest and Linkedin instead of clumping everything together under social media. That’s because Pinterest and Linkedin are unique and more effective to drive traffic to your website and/or podcast.
There are two primary reasons why Pinterest is so great for traffic generation. First, Pinterest is built to share. Users are actively looking to create boards and find content to add to them, which is shared to their followers. Secondly, these pins show up in Google image search, which increases the longevity and value of the content, compared to an Instagram post. Anecdotally, I have a friend that runs a fitness website and 60% of his traffic comes from Pinterest.
Build an Email List
My inbox is a mess. I have currently more than 30,000 unread messages in my inbox and the vast majority of those unread emails are from company newsletters. But despite my horrific inbox, email is still an effective channel to drive loyal listeners.
The average engagement rate of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter is 0.58 percent. The average open rate for email is 22.86% and the average click through rate of opened email is 3.71%. While it’s more difficult to get people to opt into your email list than click “like” on Linkedin, it’s more valuable in the long-term. People who opt-in to your email list are taking a specific action. They’ve expressed interest in your content. Unless you abuse their inbox and send crap messages, they’re more likely to open an email than scroll past your post on social media.
Invite Guests With Followings
Ego bait is a term to describe the act of leveraging someone’s ego to get them to participate in your content, then using them to help market your podcast episode. While the term may seem off putting, it’s an effective tactic.
People like to be interviewed and to tell their network that someone wanted to interview them. Be strategic with who you invite onto your podcast. Obviously when you’re just starting out getting a big name person as a guest is highly unlikely. But work your way up. I started by asking my friends to be on my podcast. Then I leveraged those interviews as proof of concept to get people with bigger followings to come onto my podcast. Tag these guests in your social media posts to increase the size of your potential audience.
Tap Into Online Communities
Fair warning, this is a double edged sword. My first job in digital marketing was placing random comments and links in online communities. People HATE it when people do this. Communities are genuine and they want people to participate on a regular, genuine basis. But, if you can find a few relevant communities where you can consistently post your content (even just one), then you can give your listenership a boost.
In the past, I have generated thousands of visits from well placed comments in sub-Reddits. I have even had guests post in communities they are a part of, which is even better. Finding the communities to be a part of will take some time and effort to assimilate into. But once you do, they can be a valuable way to drive traffic to your podcast.
Building a podcast audience is hard work. It’s going to take a long time, depending on how dedicated you are to building your audience. But don’t be discouraged. Everyone has to start from zero. These six tactics will help you get started and help you be on your way to 9,000 listeners.