There are a set of very specific steps you can follow to launch your own podcast; the tough part comes after you’ve launched and suddenly, you find yourself live in iTunes wondering:
“How do I actually grow my podcast?”
We all want the same things with our podcast:
- To provide consistent and valuable content to our audience;
- To have a growing listener base; and
- In effect, to grow our overall business.
In this post we’re going to cover 7 growth hacks you can use for your podcast that will help you to provide consistent and valuable content, start growing a listener base, and as a result, grow your overall business.
But before we dive into the 7 growth hacks, let’s take a step back and make sure you have a solid foundation set for your podcast. Being able to grow your podcast depends on having these pieces in place first.
A solid foundation to growth hack a podcast
Define your avatar and identify your niche
Knowing exactly who you’re creating your podcast for (your avatar) and being able to niche down so you’re not trying to speak to everyone are two of THE most important parts of your foundation.
If you’ve already launched your podcast without knowing who you are speaking to, or what specific value you have to provide them based on your niche, then you shouldn’t be thinking about how you’re going to grow your podcast audience yet.
First, you need to define your avatar and identify your niche so you know specifically what type of content you can create with your podcast.
Once you know who your avatar is and you’ve identified your niche, you’re one step closer to being able to grow your podcast!
Next comes a step that most new podcasters skip: confirming uniqueness.
What’s your UVD: your Unique Value Distinguisher? (thanks for that JLD!)
This is what sets you and your podcast apart from all the other podcasters and podcasts in your industry or niche, and it will be a BIG reason why listeners choose YOUR podcast over another.
If you don’t have a UVD yet, then take a time out and start brainstorming.
- What makes YOU different than other podcasters in your industry or niche?
- How will you present your content in a unique way?
Make your podcast different.
Whether that be in the way it’s formatted, the frequency, how you start it, how you end it – you have to find something that will make it stand out.
This is also going to require some research on your part. What are other podcasters doing in your industry or niche currently?
If your podcast is a copy of what dozens of people have created before you, you’ll never be able to differentiate yourself, and therefore, you’ll never be able to grow your audience.
For me, my UVD was my podcast being a solo Audio Blog, which there aren’t many of out there.
To add to that, I’m also 100% transparent on my podcast – something else you don’t see too much of. I share dollar amounts, percentages – a complete behind-the-scenes look at how we continue to run and grow a multi-million dollar business.
Choose Your Podcasting Frequency
Consistency is key in podcasting; it’s important that you commit to a publishing schedule so your listeners can rely on you and the content you’re providing.
Your podcasting frequency should be a combination of:
- What you can realistically handle given your other projects and priorities, and
- What your perfect listener would hope for
There are a lot of decisions you’ll be making while setting the foundation for your podcast, but remember: not all of these decisions have to rest on your shoulders. Your avatar is who you should be turning to every step of the way: what would your avatar say if you asked them how often you should publish a new episode?
Decide on the Format and Length of Your Episodes
The format and length of your episodes is an important decision to make; however, these are not decisions that should hold you back from just starting.
Again, it’s important to consider your avatar when making a decision on the format and length of your episodes.
Ask yourself questions like:
- Would my avatar prefer an interview show, a topic-based show, a Q&A format, or a combination?
- Would my avatar have the time, patience, or even the desire to listen to a 2-hour episode, or would they be more excited about a quick, straight-to-the-point 20-minute episode?
Knowing the format of your episodes and how long each of them will be – even if it ends up being a draft that helps you get started – completes the foundation of your podcast.
7 Growth Hacks for Your Podcast
Now that you know what the most important parts of your foundation are – the things you’ll need in place before you start looking at how to grow your podcast – let’s dive into the 7 growth hacks for your podcast!
1. Launch Your Podcast with 3 Episodes
If you’ve already launched your podcast, never fear: even if you didn’t launch with three episodes, hopefully you have at least three episodes live now.
The reason launching with three episodes can help you growth hack your podcast is three-fold:
1. When someone sees your podcast, they’ll immediately be able to get a good taste of what you have to offer without having to wait before you publish your next episode, which in some cases could be weeks away.
It essentially speeds up the decision-making process for your listener: are they going to continue listening or not?
2. Three episodes allows you the opportunity to publish Episode 000 – an intro episode that’s about you, why you started your podcast, and why your listener should care – in addition to giving them your actual content in Episodes 1 and 2.
3. With three episodes, you have 3x the downloads.
If you launch with more than three episodes that’s great, but oftentimes podcasters don’t have the bandwidth or the “episodes in the bank” to support launching with a ton more AND still having episodes on standby to use over the coming weeks.
Also, iTunes rankings do seem to be at least partially based on the number of downloads your podcast has receive in the last 24 hours.
So, while launching with more than three episodes might give you a HUGE spike in downloads right off the bat, it’s likely to actually hurt your rankings moving forward since iTunes will be comparing all your future downloads per day to that one huge spike you saw from launching with a ton of episodes.
2. Be Consistent
Consistency builds trust, loyalty, momentum and engagement, and all of these are critical factors when it comes to your podcast’s growth.
While being consistent may not sound like a growth hack, the truth is you cannot grow a podcast audience all on your own.
The trust and loyalty factors will ensure your early listeners keep coming back for more; the momentum will help you reach more people faster; and the engagement will ensure you’re getting feedback directly from your listeners to help you continuously improve what you have to offer.
3. Connect with Your Listeners
Connecting with your listeners doesn’t scale, but it can be a massive growth hack for your podcast if you take the time to do it right.
All that’s required is a strong call to action from you on your podcast inviting listeners to do one of the following:
- Reach out to you via email
- Fill out a form on your website that captures their email address
- Schedule a one-on-one call with you
Connecting with your listeners and asking them questions like:
- What is your #1 struggle or fear right now?
- What are your biggest dreams and aspirations?
- What is your favorite thing about the podcast?
- What do you feel would improve the podcast?
Will give you the exact feedback you need to skyrocket your podcast’s growth.
Once you’ve had these chats with anywhere from five to 25 of your listeners, you’ll be able to take a look back at the data and identify common themes. Those common themes are things you can use to improve, and therefore grow, your podcast.
4. Create Community
As human beings we all want many of the same things, and one of those things is connection. We want to know that we’re not alone.
You creating a space for your listeners to come together and start to create a community will help them feel connected and give them a reason to continue coming back to you.
Create a platform that allows your audience to engage not just with you, but with others who are like them.
This might be a Private Facebook Group, an in-person meet up at a conference or event, or simply in the comments section of your blog.
Creating a safe space where people feel comfortable and know they can go to be surrounded by like-minded people will again, give them a reason to come back to you.
5. Guest Posts and Guest Podcasting
Two of the most underutilized growth hacks for growing your podcast are guest posting and guest podcasting.
Does it take time to build relationships and find the right connections so that when you do guest post or appear on someone else’s podcast it’ll benefit the host, your host’s audience AND help you grow your podcast all at the same time?
Of course it does. If it didn’t, and it was super easy, then EVERYONE would be doing it.
Perhaps that’s why more people aren’t doing it, which means it’s the perfect time for you to step up.
Every time you find another website or podcast that’s in the same industry or niche that you are – and that is speaking to a similar audience – that’s another opportunity for you to put yourself in front of a whole lot of people who may have never heard of you before.
Continue putting yourself on multiple platforms and you will gain exposure for you, your brand, and your podcast.
6. Have a Strong Call To Action
One of the beautiful things about podcasting is that the barrier to listening to podcasts is extremely low. Anyone with an Internet connection can press play!
Great news for us podcast producers, right?
But what if listeners are tuning in to your podcast, getting great content from you, and then at the end of the episode, you’re simply saying, “okay thanks, bye!”
We’re all BUSY.
We don’t always take the time to think about what our next step is supposed to be; we sort of get into the habit of just going with the flow.
“Okay thanks, bye!” = “Bye!”
Your listener is now gone and off to the next thing on their list.
But what if you had a strong call to action in every single one of your podcast episodes where you were literally telling your listeners what their next step should be?
Then, you’ll be making it easy for them to know exactly what you want them to do; plus, you’ll be adding even more value to their experience.
- To your website for the show notes (“Remember, you can get all the links and references mentioned on today’s show by going to…”)
- To a content upgrade that gives them a free download and is directly related to the episode they just listened to (“If you want to grab a checklist for all 7 Growth Hacks for Your Podcast that we’re going to talk about today, head over to… to download it now!”)
- To your email inbox (“I’d LOVE to hear your feedback on today’s episode and I’m always here for you; send me an email at…!”)
- A question (“What’s the ONE thing you would change about… Head over to the show notes page and drop down to comments section to share!”)
A strong call to action to invite your listeners deeper into your world, whether that be via your website or your email inbox, can lead to rapid growth for your podcast.
7. Test it on Social Media
Not sure what type of content will move your audience most?
Wondering if anyone is out there listening?
Test out different titles, topics and types of content on social media to get quick feedback from your ideal listeners!
If you’re struggling with anything having to do with your podcast, the content you’re sharing, or otherwise, investing even a small amount of money in Facebook, Instagram or YouTube ads could be incredibly helpful.
You don’t have to be an ads pro on any social media platform to get started; it might be something as simple as boosting a poll on Facebook that is asking your followers what topic they’d like to hear about most, or posting an image on Instagram that has a catchy call to action to fill out a survey on your website that will give them X in return.
Will these work to growth hack my podcast?
Growth hacks are not all created equally.
Some of the 7 I’ve shared here will be a lot more time intensive than others, but the purpose of this post is to get you thinking about the different actions you can start taking right now to get the word out about your podcast and start growing your audience.
I didn’t invent these 7 growth hacks for your podcast – quite the opposite, actually.
Since I launched my podcast, Kate’s Take, back in August 2014 I’ve been implementing and testing out every single one of these growth hacks myself.
And guess what?
And if they’re working for me, I know they can work for you, too.
Over the past two years I’ve…
- Practiced a lot of patience;
- Continuously taken action to improve my podcast over what it was yesterday;
- Never given up – even when I was feeling REALLY frustrated;
- Continued to brainstorm and innovate;
- Reminded myself that slow and steady growth is a good thing; and
- Focused on continuous improvement and serving my audience.
After implementing the 7 growth hacks above to help grow my podcast, I’ve more than doubled the amount of downloads my podcast gets on daily basis, and the trend is still on the up-and-up.
I’ve also spoken on stage over 10 times as a direct result of exposure and connections I made through my podcast.
And it’s because of my podcast that I’ve been able to consistently sell over 50 copies of my eBook, The Fire Path: A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Your Online Business, every single month.
The Next Step: Monetize Your Podcast
Wondering what’s next now that you know 7 powerful growth hacks for your podcast?
Once you start growing your podcast and have an audience to speak to, the sky’s the limit.
There are multiple ways you can go about monetizing your podcast, and sponsorship revenue is probably one of the first thing most podcasters think about when it comes to monetizing their podcast.
However, there are several other ways you can monetize your podcast, too.
A few examples are:
- Self-publish a book on Amazon, then use your podcast as a tool to promote it;
- Through affiliate relationships that will serve your audience;
- Podcast sponsorships;
- Create products for your audience;
- Create services for your audience.
What are your top growth hacks for your podcast? Share with us in the comments section below!