The burning question in every podcast Facebook group is “How do I grow my podcast audience?” Podcast growth is still mostly dependent on word-of-mouth, but these 10 strategies will help you grow your podcast audience to the numbers you are looking for. You won’t find things like paid advertising on this list. These are ways to organically grow your podcast audience. That means that the growth may be slow but that’s the nature of podcasting right now.
And remember, if you’re still in the planning process, here are a few resources to help:
- FREE Podcast Launch Training
- Choosing the best Podcast Hosting for your Podcast (Our top pick: Buzzsprout)
- How to Get your Podcast on Apple Podcasts
10 Ways to Grow your Podcast Audience
Every podcaster I’ve run into has wanted to grow their podcast audience. They want more listeners and want to hit those milestone podcast downloads. I’m hoping with this blog post, I can dispel some of the myths that go around podcast growth and make this super easy for you to understand.
Let’s get into some ways to organically grow your podcast audience.
How Long Does it Take to Grow your Podcast Audience?
Next to how to grow your audience, many podcasters are asking how long does it take to actually grow that audience. Remember that if you are starting your podcast without a pre-established audience, you’ll find that your growth is slower moving than if you are coming at this medium with thousands (or even hundreds) of engaged social media followers.
When my sister and I started our podcast about being cult survivors, we spent three full months in the launch phase growing our audience before launching a single episode because we didn’t want to launch to crickets.
The answer is that it really depends. It depends on the time and effort you are putting into growing your audience and if you are actively marketing your podcast.
Pro-Tip about Podcast Downloads: Comparing podcasts in different categories and niches is like comparing Apples to Avocados. It just doesn’t make sense. All that said, here are the podcast download stats according to Libsyn:
If your new episode gets, within 30 days of its release:
- 136 downloads or more, you’re in the top 50% of podcasts.
- 1100 downloads or more, you’re in the top 20% of podcasts.
- 3200 downloads or more, you’re in the top 10% of podcasts.
- 7,700 downloads or more, you’re in the top 5% of podcasts.
- 20,000 downloads or more, you’re in the top 2% of podcasts.
- 36,000 downloads or more, you’re in the top 1% of podcasts.
This is a good standard to assess your podcast but remember that a podcast about a hit tv show will have a different download count than a podcast about candle pouring. It’s just the nature of creating content for different niches.
Start Marketing your Podcast Before you Launch
Too many podcasts launch to crickets! Yeah, I said it. There are courses out there that focus on launching a podcast in 14 days… 1 month… Hours even. The sad thing about this is that these teachers preach “build it and they will come.”
This idea is absolute bullshit and I’m sick of seeing it in the industry.
When you start marketing your podcast before you launch, you are already setting up your podcast for some success and having an audience who is ready to tune in as soon as your first episodes drop.
That’s the way that my hobby podcast got over 250 downloads within the first 24 hours of launch.
Nail your Podcast Niche
When you understand your audience and can speak directly to them, this can help you create content that your ideal audience actually wants to listen to.
Here are a few ways to get clear on your podcast niche so you can grow your podcast audience:
- What topic do you find interesting?
- Is there a community of others out in the world who find this topic interesting too?
- Can you talk about this topic without losing interest? Note that I didn’t ask if you are an expert in this topic. You should have some working knowledge but don’t let imposter syndrome stop you.
- Will you have enough content to talk about this?
Make your Show Accessible for All
There are two ways to make sure your podcast is accessible for all. This is an easy fix to ensure that you are growing your podcast audience and can reach everyone.
Have your podcast available on all major and minor podcast listening platforms. Quite a few people are amazed to find out that Apple Podcasts only accounts for 30-40% of the downloads on my hobby podcast. That means that if I only had my podcast available on that listening platform, I would be missing out on a ton of downloads and audiences.
Transcribe your podcast and have that easily accessible for your listeners. Sometimes it can be easy to forget that there are people out there who are hard of hearing or have a hard time listening to content. When you only produce an audio experience for your audience, you are excluding others who can’t engage with audio-only content. I like using Otter.ai to transcribe the episodes for my clients.
Podcast Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important for having your podcast list in Google searches. In 2019, Google announced that it was going to start indexing (listing) podcast episodes in searches.
Here are some basic Podcast SEO tips:
- Each episode should have focus keywords
- Make sure your podcast description has a few keywords in it
- Your show notes should be optimized for search
- Name your episode like you would name a blog post
- Make sure to post your podcast episodes and show notes on your website
There’s obviously a lot of strategies that go into the SEO part of a podcast so if you are looking for support on podcast SEO, be sure to book a call with us and we can help.
Use Social Media to Promote and Market Your Podcast
Make sure that you are sharing current and past episodes with your audience at least twice a week on each social media platform. The algorithms on Facebook and Instagram don’t always give the best reach so you’ll want to make sure you are talking about your podcast nonstop.
If you have a guest on your podcast or mention someone in your podcast episode, be sure to tag them when you share about the episode on social media.
If you had a follower recommend the podcast episode then make sure that you tag them and say that you for the episode idea. Ask them what their favorite takeaway was from the episode.
Share, share, and share some more.
Use Social Media to Interact with Potential Listeners
Yes, this strategy is different than the previous one.
I recommend using these tips to interact with potential listeners on social media:
- Use relevant hashtags that your audience is following
- Comment on the posts of other podcasters who are in similar niches as you
- “Stalk” the followers of similar podcasts and engage with them on their own posts
My friend, Jillian O’Keefe is an amazing Instagram strategist and I recommend checking out her Mini-Course, Engaged Like a Boss to help you learn the best ways to grow your social media audience and engage with that audience.
Join an Active Podcast Community
There are some really fantastic podcast communities on Facebook and many of them allow you to promote your show on designated posts. They are also a great way to crowdsource help and ideas from other podcasters who understand the industry.
Obviously I’m going to shamelessly plug my own podcast community that offers weekly training and more strategies to grow your podcast. A community of aspiring and established podcasters who come together to share their best tips and strategies to have a well maintained podcast and attract an audience with a message.
Since I’m a HUGE Buzzsprout fan, obviously I’m part of their podcast community and will continue to promote the heck out of them. This is a place for Buzzsprout podcasters to interact with each other and with the Buzzsprout team.
The world’s largest community of podcasters. News, resources, and the best events in podcasting!
The podcast community by women podcasters. Talking tech and podcast industry and everything else that may or may to be related.
WOC (Women of Color) Podcasters is an inclusive community for women of color podcasters and audio creators. This is a place to connect, learn about podcasting, share resources, and find potential guests and collaborators.
The Podcast Growth Mastermind is a group for you, the entrepreneur, marketer, author and coach who wants to hack podcasting and podcast guesting, as well as the podcaster eager to learn how to grow, make an impact with and monetize your show.
Have Guests on your Podcast
But you can’t just have any guest on your podcast. You’ll want to be very strategic when you select your podcast guests. As someone who is a recovering people pleaser, I know it can be hard to say no to someone. But you have to think about your audience when people pitch to you about your podcast. Make sure that this person is going to be able to serve your audience.
If you aren’t sure about where to find podcast guests, ask around. Check out those podcast groups I listed before to see if there are posts about being a guest.
Be a Guest on Other Podcasts
If you want to reach your ideal listeners, it’s important to get onto podcasts that talk to your ideal listeners. This is great because you are essentially “borrowing” another person’s podcast audience.
If your ideal listener is already a follower of this person then that is a win-win. You can engage with this audience and serve them while being able to pull them to your podcast as well. Be sure to look for podcasts that are compatible and not your direct competition as a business owner.
If you are looking to be a guest on other podcasts, we offer podcast pitching. You can book a call if you are looking to have us pitch podcasts for you.
Tell your Audience to Tell a Friend
Since word-of-mouth is the easiest and best way to grow your podcast audience, tell your audience to take action. I recommend putting this in your outro so that as your episode ends, they have that one call-to-action to share the podcast.
You can easily say something like this: “If you found this episode helpful, make sure to share it with a friend who you think would find value in it.”
So there you have it. Ten strategies that you can start using today to grow your podcast audience.