I see these questions all the time: How do I market my podcast? How do I get more listeners? How do I grow my download numbers? Should I buy ads? What if I spent money on this [name of service]? Whether I’m asked one on one or come across it on social media, it’s there, in some form, every single day. How on earth are you supposed to break X amount of downloads?
What they’re really asking is: Why aren’t people listening to and engaging with my show?
My question to them is: How many listeners and potential listeners have you reached out to and actively engaged?
The answer is usually something like: I’ve asked my listeners to x, y and z.
If you’re really reading here, then you’ve realized that my question isn’t often answered.
Here’s the thing. You, my podcasting lovely, are a HOST first. I feel like that that’s a word that has lost all meaning in the podcasting world. Let me pull up a definition for you:
Did you notice it’s a verb and not a noun? Podcast hosts both entertain guests (and the listener is a ‘guest’ of sorts) and they emcee. It’s an action word for good reason. Why aren’t you growing an engaged audience is not a question that should be asked until you’ve actively engaged your audience.
If you’re asking how to engage your audience (and potential audience) that’s okay. I’m going to give you 4 free, simple, but effective tips procasters use. It’s going to take some time on your part, BUT, the pay off is HUGE. I did it with my own podcast because it only cost me time, but I found it was incredibly rewarding, grew my audience quickly and made me not care about stats so much. I was too busy being a great host!
Be active in your niche. Don’t overtly spam your community with LISTEN TO MY PODCAST!!!!!! Instead, get out there, talk to people because they’re in your niche and they’re interesting. Always have your podcast link in your profile, email signature and bios. It’s there, but not in a spammy, annoying way that turns people off, so when they are looking for a podcast about your niche, they think, “Oh, that nice person I talked to the other day has podcast… I’ll check it out.” And remember, there’s an offline thing called real life where you can give people your card…
Start with friends and family. If they don’t know what a podcast is, congratulations, you get to educate them! Ask them to listen, rate and review your show. Ask them to share it with someone who might get some value from it. Give them some T-shirts. Don’t compartmentalize your podcasting life into the online, podcasting space. As a bonus, you’re going beyond only helping your show, you’re helping the podcasting industry by being an in-person advocate. It’s win-win.
Use your newsletter like a boss. If you’ve gotten permission from your newsletter subscribers… (I’ll wait while you create that, ahem FREE, Mail Chimp account you’ve been putting off)… reach out to them to ask WHY they listen (or not) and WHAT they want, love and hate about your show. That accomplishes a few things: Showing you care, building trust, nurturing a relationship, making them feel like they have ownership. That simple act creates LOYAL fans.
Be social on SOCIAL media. You’ve posted your gazillionth LISTEN TO MY SHOW post on your feed. John Doe liked it. You think to yourself, “gee, thanks.” You go have some coffee. If this is your social media routine congratulations, you can now grow as a podcaster because it’s the WRONG routine. Let’s learn something different: When someone ‘likes’ your post, you can then type on your magic internet machine, “THANK YOU, John Doe! Your kudos keep me keeping on!” You could use the newsletter tip to strike up a convo about the podcast with John Doe.
Think about how you would feel if your podcast idol sent you an email? If they struck up a conversation with you on Facebook? Why not cause that feeling in your own listeners?
Many of us introverted podcasters have to actively remember that you can’t wait for people to reach out and engage with you. You can’t grow and wait at the same time. It will be uncomfortable and awkward at times. You may even hear negative feedback. BUT, you’ll also being creating fans instead of listeners.
Why? Because you’ll be being the ‘verb’ host and not the ‘noun’ host. You’ll be creating a rich, memorable experience for your audience. That’s the indie podcasters unfair advantage.