Thinking of producing a podcast to promote a book or build your author platform? This advice can help you think through some of the basics of creation and promotion.
Hosting a podcast is an excellent way to build a brand and audience, but it doesn’t just happen by itself. The adage, “build it and they will come,” just isn’t true when it comes to building an audience online.
As far as podcasts are concerned, the technical side of setting up all your equipment, recording the audio and doing the post-production editing is just the start. You also need to know how to give your listeners what they want and how to market and promote your content.
Define your niche
“If you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll be nothing to anyone.”
You need to define your niche and stick to it. You must specialize. Don’t try to please everyone because you’ll end up pleasing nobody. By specializing and having a well-defined niche, you will become known as an authority in that area. When you are an authority, good things happen — people will quote you, people will link to you. Whenever your niche comes up in a conversation, people will think of you.
It’s very tempting to stray from a niche, especially early on, because we are so desperate to please people and build listenership, but you must resist that temptation. If you stray from your niche to other topics, yes, you might attract a few new subscribers who are interested in the new topic but you could alienate your core subscribers because you are no longer discussing what they signed up for. You are diluting your brand. Be strong and stick to your niche. It’s the best strategy in the long term.
Understand your target audience
Think about what it is you’re doing and what need it serves. If you make comedy, you serve the need to laugh and be entertained. Do you provide expert advice or info on a topic? You’re serving the need for education and self-improvement.
Once you understand the needs you fulfill (and there could be many, so it’s great to create a list), you can fully grasp how to serve them best and stand out to the people with those needs.
Use the power of patterns
The human brain loves patterns. Why? Humans love order. It’s pleasurable to recognize something familiar and growing attachments bring us comfort. You can use this to your advantage in myriad ways. Let’s start with your content.
Your episode content should be structured carefully and tell a story; regardless of your format. This is where the power of three comes in; it’s the smallest number of elements needed to create a pattern.
Try structuring your episodes using three main bullet points, or three distinct sections that together weave a story for your listeners.
Our love of patterns is also why you need a memorable intro/outro; an established episode schedule, format, and structure; and a catchy tagline. This way, people will grow attached to you. They’ll be hooked because they feel a real connection.
Be seen and heard
You need to make it as easy as possible to find you. Let’s look at a few ways to do that.
Drip feed content. Creating bite-sized bits of content is an excellent way to meet your needs in multiple ways. People generally decide whether or not they want to listen to a station or watch a show within seconds before switching channels.
Creating short segments from your full episodes acts as a highlight reel and showcases your podcast effectively to newcomers. It sparks interest and entices people to listen to your full show. It also acts as an amazing way to generate plenty of content with a constant stream of fresh cuts. You’ll always be visible if you’re always around!
One way to manage the consistent flow of content is by using a tool, such as MeetEdgar. MeetEdgar helps automate the process of content sharing. Features include searching your blog posts and pulling quotes to share, as well as resharing your evergreen content, to infinity and beyond!
Use social media Social media platforms are a great vehicle through which to drip feed content. It keeps you connected to your audience and encourages conversation and engagement.
The idea is to make your content consistent, engaging, and shareable. Use hashtags that make your content easy to find, address your audience when creating posts, and encourage their voices to be heard. Ask for their opinions or questions they need answered.
Get creative with offering incentives to share your posts. You could do a giveaway, offer access to exclusive content, or even allow your audience to help decide on the next episode through a poll.
If you have guests on the show, send them a graphic with a quote of something memorable they said during your interview with a link to the episode. Your guest will be more likely to share it with their audience because you’ve simplified it to pressing a button.
Make sure your podcast and latest episodes are always visible: add a link to your podcast in your social media bio and pin your latest episodes to the top of your feed.
Another platform to consider is YouTube. If you’re keen on filming your shows, hosting your content there opens you up to another audience. Plus, it’s free!
Use your website. Consider transcribing your podcast content into blog posts so that Google knows what keywords you should be ranking for. Remember the importance of specializing and defining your niche? If you target all keywords that are related to your niche, Google’s algorithms will identify you over time as an authority and your website will start moving up the search results.
Embed your podcast player on your website and showcase your episodes on the homepage for maximum visibility. Use tools like pop-up windows and calls-to-action to increase visibility and invite users to check out your podcast or subscribe to your mailing list.
Grow your network
Unlike radio, podcasting is timeless. Your audience can listen to you whenever they want.
Connect with podcasters. The podcast world is synergistic. The connections you make determine your success and cross-promotion is one of the most effective growth strategies.
Take the time to listen to other podcasts in your niche and if you really like what someone’s doing, tell them! Reach out, let them know what you’re up to and see if they’d be interested in cross-promoting. You could invite them as a guest on your show or pitch to be a guest on theirs.
It’s important to focus outward and emphasize the value you can bring. Do you have an idea for an episode that could help their listeners in a big way? Pitch ideas that bring value to others.
Invite guests. Having guests on your show is not only entertaining and valuable for your listeners, it’s also one of the most effective ways to promote your podcast.
Sourcing interesting guests is simple if you know where to look. Who in your niche has an upcoming project (a book or event)? It’s the perfect time for you to take the initiative and reach out as they’re likely to be booking interviews close to their launch. They get to promote their project and you get a guest appearance from someone who will also want to promote that episode. It’s a win-win.
One thing to remember when you’ve booked a guest is to try to build a buzz before and after the show. Blog about it on your website, email your subscribers, post teaser clips and tell your audience why they should check it out!
Make sure to provide your guests with teaser content they can share and tag them in posts on your episode.
Ads and promotion
Word of mouth. Did you know that 84% of consumers trust recommendations from their family and friends? This shows just how powerful word of mouth is! Simply talking to others about your podcast can be enough to get people curious and whipping out their phones to search for your show.
Influencer marketing. Another way to utilize word-of-mouth is through influencer marketing. Influencers can be anyone with a strong online following and you can find them by searching hashtags and keywords that are related to your niche. Try to find people whose values align with yours and whose audience could potentially be interested in your content without being a direct competitor.
When you find someone in line with your audience’s needs, engage with their content before sending them a message. When you do reach out, rather than launching straight into your podcast, first offer some content they might like to share with their audience. This way, you’re giving them something of value first. As you build a relationship and learn more about their goals, you can discuss an optimal arrangement for both of you.
Business cards. Business cards can be an effective way to promote your show, especially if you include QR codes that link straight to your podcast player!
Merchandise. Aside from t-shirts and hats, which might not be the most useful merch to support your blog, products to consider include stickers, mousepads, pens… items that will be actually used or displayed somewhere.
I have a cool-looking sticker on my laptop from Pat Flynn’s “Smart Passive Income” podcast. It’s hard to forget about someone’s podcast when you see a sticker for it every day!
Online ads. Used in combination with the techniques we talked about earlier, paid ads certainly help to boost your efforts.
Google AdWords is probably the best solution because you can configure your ads to only show when people search for the keywords that you specify. This is where understanding your audience really comes into play. If you know your audience and what their needs are, you’ll know what keywords they are searching for.
If you already have a following, you can target based on your existing audience demographics. For example, if you know that your target audience is mainly people from the USA and the UK, you can make sure your ads only show in those two countries.
Online ads are overall very affordable, with options to suit all budgets and results that can be scaled as your success builds. You can set a modest budget of $50 and then, with tracking, you can see how many new subscribers actually sign up as a direct result of the ad. If the results are satisfactory, you can scale up by increasing the budget. If the results are disappointing, you can tweak the keywords you are targeting and try again until the ad campaign is optimized. Once optimized, you can then scale it up.
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As you can see, there are many ways to build an audience and to promote your podcast. I hope this post has given you ideas to get you started.
If you are looking for more information about podcasting, I recommend you read my complete guide for beginners on “How to start a podcast.”
Finally, I would advise you to take action and take the long-view. Growing an audience is not linear. If you only have 30 subscribers after three months, do not make the mistake of giving up because you think it will take three years to get 1,000+ subscribers. Your rate of growth can be constant for months and months and then it can double overnight and then double again a month later. I’ve seen it happen! Good luck.
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