Expert Podcasters Share Tips on Building and Maintaining an Audience

Starting and building a successful podcast takes a lot of work.

As podcasters, we all have something to say, something to share, and want to reach as many people as possible with our message – whatever that may be. 

A large, engaged audience is something we all strive for and something some of us achieve.

So how do successful, established podcasters build and maintain an engaged audience? 

To answer that question, we connected with five successful, established podcasters who have shared their best tips. 

You’ll notice some recurring themes which you can apply to your own strategy!

Understand Your Audience

I think one of the best ways to build and maintain an audience is to understand what an audience is really looking for.

Get specific on delivering good, high-quality content and constantly tap into what’s important to them by continually asking them.

When I first started out I thought I’d share crap I was doing on a regular basis and maybe a few folks would tune in. That worked somewhat but I get tired of talking about myself so I started repurposing questions I had gotten from audiences from my keynotes, consulting or coaching engagements.

I leveraged those topics to kick off a whole dialogue that (I hope) has my listeners feeling as if this is a conversation just between us.

Deliver Value

 

Bring strong, relevant content. Validate you’re hitting the mark. Clarify and ask where you can do better. Continually strive for improvement. Be authentic. Be yourself.

Whether you have an audience of a few dozen people or a few million people, it does not matter.

When someone gives you the courtesy of their attention, even for a few minutes, it’s a gift.

Treat it as such and reward them with every episode so they will stay motivated to keep giving.

photo of Steve Harper, founder of The Ripple Effect podcast

Steve Harper is the founder & chief rippler at The Ripple Effect. Follow him @Rippleon

Create Real Value

The most important strategy for growing a successful listenership for podcasting is fourfold:

Good Sound Quality

It doesn’t have to be *great* sound quality but there is a baseline quality that has to be reached or most people will not listen.

If your spouse or friend thinks the recording quality is bad, consider doing some research and buying a microphone better suited for your needs, or recording in a different room/location.

Clear and Consistent Releases

It doesn’t matter if you release episodes once a month or once every week, but you need to clearly convey to your audience what your release schedule is going to be and stick with it.

If you change your schedule at some point be sure to communicate this.

Create Value

You need to create value for people listening to your podcast. It doesn’t matter if your value is entertainment, helping people fall asleep, or giving detailed how to’s to a niche business strategy, but you need to give people a reason to listen to your show. Why should they care?

Always think of ways that you can add more value to your listeners.

Advertise

Be where your (present and future) listeners are, and promote yourself on those social media platforms.

This is easily the most thankless part of podcasting, but if you make a great show the most effective way to let people know it exists is word of mouth … and the only way for you to get word of mouth traction is to tell people about it.

headshot of Travis Vengroff, Producer of The White Vault & VAST Horizon

Travis Vengroff is the  producer of The White Vault & VAST Horizon.  

Be Authentic

The most important things to keep in mind for podcasters just starting out and wanting to grow their audiences are to be authentic, to find a niche (and stick to it), and to engage with the community.

My podcast, The New Professor, stemmed from my own feelings and experiences navigating through the choppy, sometimes muddy waters of higher education. I speak frankly about my challenges and even failures.

Authenticity

Not being afraid to be yourself, “warts and all,” as they say—is absolutely key. Finding your niche, your particular little spot in the space you occupy with your knowledge and talent, is also important. There’s something you do better than anybody else and that is your toehold in, let’s face it, a pretty saturated medium like podcasting.

And finally, you need to not just talk at your audience, but with them. Find other podcasters or creators that overlap with your area and collaborate.

Simply blasting your new episode out there and tweeting about it isn’t enough; be involved.

photo of Ryan Straight, Assistant Professor for Ben Circhardson at the University of Arizona

Dr. Ryan Straight is an assistant professor of educational technology at the University of Arizona. You can listen to his podcast, The New Professor podcast at https://thenewprofessor.com 

 

 

Unapologetically Promote

The success of my show has come down to the following things: 

Consistency

I insure that my show goes out at the same time, on the same days every week. I make sure my content is consistent with my brand and with the show description so listeners get what they expect each time.

I use the same intro and outro for each episode and every episode has a show note with a clear call to action. My email list gets weekly emails with links to that week’s episodes.

Authenticity

At a time when everyone wants to emulate the latest top ten host on iTunes, I make sure that I am being myself, sharing what I really think, and engaging with the audience personally so they feel as though they know me and that I am a real person to them.

I do this by recording without a script. I share personal examples and stories, filtering myself less, and accepting my imperfections, rather than sounding like a perfectly modulated audiobook. I am not slick or polished so I have made my podcast to reflect that about me.

Willingness to unapologetically promote my show using social and guest interviews on others podcasts

I use Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to promote my show. In addition to adding links to episodes I want to feature, I reference it in my posts, stories, shares and comments by saying things like “I was just saying on my podcast …” or “last week on my podcast.” I also pitch myself to be guests on others’ shows so that I will be introduced to new audiences. 

This year, pitching has been a strategy with a lower conversion rate (more pitches than interviews) but I continue to network and introduce myself to folks.

Willingness to stop and reboot when something isn’t working

A year ago, I made a cross country move. Trying to deliver solid content when I was personally going through so many changes wasn’t working. My content and delivery suffered so I took a week off and didn’t release an episode. 

More recently, I lost my way when I was running low on content ideas. Instead of phoning it in and compromising the integrity of the show with weaker episodes, I stopped, and compromised the consistency of the show instead so I could refocus, reboot, and rebuild without disappointing my listeners accustomed to higher quality content.

picture of Heather Gray with Heather Gray Consulting

Heather Gray is the host of Business Mindset Mastery, a podcast with 100K+ downloads. You can support her podcast here: https://anchor.fm/heather-gray/support 

Repurpose Your Content

The most effective way of promoting my podcast is speaking. Every time I appear in front of a group, my intro includes my shows and podcasts. I have been named an “Icon of Influence” in the podcasting industry and include that in my introduction as well. 

Usually, there is a question from the audience regarding podcasting (even if that isn’t my topic) so that drives it into their  minds. It is difficult to measure my success, but I have over 500,000 listeners, and I get daily requests to be on my shows, so I guess that’s success.

Another strategy I use is social media to get the word out, more specifically LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. By posting the podcasts, and having my guests do so as well, it reaches an entirely different audience.  I also pay a company to take my published material and repurpose it to reach the largest audience possible.

picture of Dr. Gayle Carson from Spunky Old Broad

Dr. Gayle Carson has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, WSJ, USA Today, Newsweek, Reader’s Digest and is the author of “Big Ideas for your Business,” “Winning Ways,” and “How to Be an S.O.B–A Spunky Old Broad Who Kicks Butt.” Visit Spunky Old Broad here: www.spunkyoldborad.com 

Your Turn

What tips do you have that weren’t shared?  Leave them in the comments below!

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