In some ways, creating and publishing your podcast is the easy part. The hard part is getting people to listen. In order to gain an audience you need to let people know you exist. Here are 12 strategies for making it easy for people to find your podcast.
Make Your Podcast Search Engine Friendly
The hardest part of introducing potential listeners to your podcast is making it easy for them to find you. There are two key ways people are introduced to new information online: they find something new through a link from a regularly visited site; or they find something new through Google. While you might exert minimal influence over who links to you by become pals with dozens of A-listers, you don’t control whether people choose to link or not.
One thing you do control is the information on your own site. First time visitors want a quick and accurate synopsis of video or audio prior to investing the time listening or viewing. Think of the text description of each podcast episode as the sales pitch that convinces a casual visitor your podcast is worth their valuable time. This text is also the information the search engine bots will see when crawling your site as part of the cataloging process. When someone searches on a topic related to your podcast, your page appears higher in the results if you have relevant text.
Create an Email List
Email seems counterintuitive to podcasting. Why would people subscribe to an email about your podcasts instead of just subscribing via iTunes? Not everyone uses iTunes or Stitcher. It’s also possible your best listeners are people who don’t want audio files filling up their smartphone. The podcasting and video blogging credo is giving people what they want, when they want and how they want it. Make reminders available in every format possible. If people don’t want to subscribe to your RSS feed yet, so what. Offer an email subscription so they know when you post something new. You can get started with services like Aweber or Mailchimp to handle your email publishing, which allows you to concentrate on your podcast.
Press releases are seen as old media notification tools, but they still work. If there’s an interesting angle in one episode of your podcast, write up 300-500 words about it and submit the release to press release services like PR Web and Newswire. Events like your 100th episode, annual anniversary, interviews with interesting people or upcoming contests are all compelling reasons to send out a press release.
Subscribe to Your Podcast
I’m not kidding. Subscribe to your podcast in Stitcher, iTunes and any other online service you can think of. Some of them won’t support the audio enclosures, but that’s not the point. If the service has one customer subscribed to a feed, the service knows that feed exists, which means your feed is indexed by that service. You don’t have control over which service or applications your listeners choose, but you can make it easier to find your podcast within those services by subscribing to it.
Book Interesting Guests
One proven way to build audience is to book interesting guests. A good guest will resonate with your audience and improve the chances that they will tell other like minded people. In many cases, the guest will also tell their own circle about appearing on your podcast. Because most people are busy, remember to send a thank you email after the show and include a link to episode to make it easy for them to share on Facebook, Twitter, or their own blog.
The biggest mistake people making in booking guests is to book the same people everyone else in the nice does. Nobody needs to listen to every interview with the same author or expert. Get creative. Find people who have an interesting point of view that haven’t already appeared on a dozen podcasts in your niche. Those people are out there and doing the extra work to find them rewards your listeners.
Just make sure you come prepared with questions and be respectful of your guest’s time.
Social Media Sharing
It should go without saying that you need to promote your podcast on your social media channels. If you do an in person interview with a guest, get a photo or two to use on Facebook and Twitter. If you can do an quick video in addition to the interview, share 15 seconds on Instagram or Snapchat so you can tease the full episode. Be active and be open to answering people’s questions so that you build relationships with people who are either currently part of your audience or might come check you out when they realize you help them out.
Post Video Episodes on YouTube
If your podcast is a video show, you are probably already doing this one. If you’re doing audio recordings, you can still get in on the YouTube game. Create a photo story in iMovie or your favorite video app with images related to the topic of your podcast. Add the audio recording as the soundtrack to the images and save the whole thing out as a movie. Then upload to YouTube.
Be sure to include a link back to your podcast in the description so that people can come check you out.
Comment on Other Podcasts and Blogs
If someone else covers a topic related to your podcast, comment on what they are saying either in their comments or in your podcast. Mention in the text synopsis of your podcast that you talked about what The Cooking Blog had to say about making clam chowder on your clam chowder episode and link back to their post about their favorite recipes. Participating in Facebook or LinkedIn groups related to your topic is also closely related to commenting.
Guest Blog on Related Sites
You are already spending time talking about your favorite subject in your podcast, but a whole universe of people don’t know you exist. If there are bloggers who write about your topic, offer to guest blog when they need a break or want to go on vacation. Just like you, many of these people are busy, so come prepared with a couple of topics you believe will be interesting to the blog readers.
Be certain your guest post is adding value for the reader and by all means avoid making the post about you.
Affiliate with a Network
Some of the early successes in podcasting are the result of network affiliations. Certainly, the show I produce, The Chris Pirillo Show, benefits from Chris’s Lockergnome network. Engadget’s podcast became popular with the help of a large Weblogs, Inc readership. Something more informal works too. Identify a group of bloggers, podcasters and video bloggers all talking about related topics and arrive at a way to team up and drive traffic to each other’s efforts.
Build Relationships with Listeners
While listening to audio is technically a one way communication, encouraging and incorporating listener feedback in your show creates a sense of community. Actively solicit feedback from listeners by providing ways to call and leave messages or send email feedback. A free service like Google Voice or Skype can be a great way to get messages. If you get email raves, read them during your podcast. If you get questions from listeners, answer them during your podcast when appropriate.
Get Listed in Directories
Make sure you have your podcast listed in places where people go looking for podcasts. Stitcher and iTunes are probably the two biggest ways people listen on a smartphone, but there are several other popular places where people go to find out about podcasts.
BluBrry is both the company behind the PowerPress plugin and a great place to discover podcasts. If you are looking for a hosting provider, BluBrry is a great choice, but you can also simply submit your podcast to get listed in their directory.
iTunes is still the most important place to submit your podcast. Millions of iPhones, iPads, and iPods will have easy access to subscribing to your show when you submit to iTunes.
Stitcher is probably the second most popular way people find and subscribe to podcasts. Getting listed in their directory gives you some listener stats and will give you the opportunity to grow your audience.