I have a fear that podcasters are taking the “build it and they will come” approach. One’s attitude could quickly become cavalier once their newest episode is uploaded. Sit back, put your feet up, and wait for people to come find it, right? Wrong.
If you try to make the argument that your podcast is available on a variety of different platforms, you still haven’t said how/why potential listeners will find and choose yours. After all, as of late last summer, there were 400 thousand podcasts on iTunes. You need to do something – or, as you’re about to read, somethings, plural – to get your show known. Even if your show art is great and the title is really catchy, it’s still swimming in a sea of many, many, many other audio fish.
Podcasting comes with many demands on our time. Those of us that do it are preoccupied with worrying about how to monetize, checking our stats, editing our show, lining up guests to interview, writing for the next episode, keeping up with the industry itself, learning about new hardware and software, and trying to get ratings and reviews.
But, as I’ve told audiences when I’ve spoken at events such as DC Podfest, in our nation’s capital, and Podfest Multimedia Expo, in Orlando, the reason you need to concern yourself with these tactics is because if you don’t, who else will?
As you read through the following list and decide that a couple of these might seem elementary, do a self-audit. It might seem obvious, but are you doing it?
1. Get media interviews
Be sure to have a hook, though. Just being a podcaster and having what you think is a good show merely puts you in line with the other creators who are contributing to that 400 thousand number above. Give the host and/or producer a reason why they should interview you (and not the other podcasters).
2. Post media coverage on your website AND on YouTube
I devote an entire (IN THE MEDIA) section of my website to showcase where I’ve been interviewed. Radio, TV, newspaper, the internet, and other podcasts are all great places to get the word out about your show. By posting it on your site, however, it shows others who are considering interviewing you that you have the experience on the guest side of the mic and that others have found you to be of interest to their audience.
Posting on YouTube gets you on the second largest search engine in the world, and thus a chance to be found by folks who might otherwise not come across you and your show. Take the audio from radio and podcast interviews and set them to still photos that will create video that will keep the viewer interested: your photo, your podcast logo, the interviewer’s photo, their show or station’s logo, and even your eBook cover if you have such and get a chance to talk about it during the interview.
3. Have a business card just for your show
Giving someone the business card for your day job and expecting them to remember that you have a podcast, what it’s called, and where to find it is not only asking a lot, but it’s a missed (branding) opportunity. At the least have a website address on there, but consider having your name, number, and email address as well.
Whether it’s a hat or a shirt or both, be a walking billboard for your show. Initially, you will find these to be more useful PR-wise than for merchandise sales, but don’t wear non-branded apparel to an event where you can market your show. I recommend putting at least your website on the back too so that people seated behind you will be more inclined to look it up than if your shirt was blank on the back. (Tip: Sit up front so that more people will be behind you seeing that web address)
5. Email signature
I had someone approach me after a speaking engagement and thank me for bringing this one up because although it’s obvious, they did the self-audit and realized they hadn’t implemented such. Mine is loaded, from the URL to icons for the platforms where my podcast can be found to social media icons.
Mine goes out once a week – on the day that my podcast comes out. You have total control over the content, the length, and the frequency. Thanks to my Web developer, I don’t even use a paid service. But regardless of how you send yours out, just do something. In this day and age of our email inboxes being on the receiving end of newsletters from others, make sure you are active as a sender too.
7. Public speaking
I have spoken at music industry events, put on workshops, been a speaker at a content marketing summit, talked to e-marketing groups, and, of course, been featured at podcasting events. But whether you’re talking to a Rotary Club, speaking at a corporate event, or, yes, featured in front of fellow podcasters, you should master the art of weaving your podcast into your talk. Respect what the organizer has requested and stay on topic, but find a way to reference your podcast here or there, but then also be a promoter as you’re meeting attendees before and after your talk.
8. Promotional items
Be specific to your subject matter, however. I give people a small container that has earbuds in it. On the outside of the case is my podcast logo and website address. This makes sense because “Now Hear This Entertainment” is a podcast featuring interviews with guests who are having success in entertainment – primarily music. Listeners need earbuds to listen to music. Thus, it’s a logical item for me to pass out.
However, if you are a CPA and you give me a koozy, how does that make me think of your business? If you host a podcast for DIY home repair enthusiasts and you give me a small screwdriver with your podcast website URL on it, that’s clever and totally appropriate. If you gave me a drink coaster, however, I wouldn’t make the connection.
9. Social media
Yes, I waited this far into the list on purpose. It goes without saying that you should be promoting on social media, but not just on social media. That being said, I highly encourage you to have one account dedicated solely to your podcast. This is what I do with Instagram. Yes, I post on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn about my podcast, but I put other posts related to my business on those platforms too.
However, seven days a week on Instagram I am posting to an account dedicated solely to my podcast. How do I manage to find something for every day of the week? Sometimes I go to a show notes page from a past episode, pull out a great quote from that guest, create an image for it on Canva, and voila, I have an Instagram post.
10. Award nominations
These expose your show to not only the other nominees but to voters and readers who scan the list to see what podcasts are competing for a certain award. Before you know it they’re checking you out to hear why your show is a contender.
11. Provide a roadmap for your guests to promote
Email the guest to let them know that the interview is out, the various links they can choose from to promote to their followers, and your social media handles that you’d like them to tag in their posts. There is a greater likelihood of them putting something up if you give them suggested text than if you just say, “Thanks again. I hope you like it.” You might even get new social media followers of your own!
12. Contact other interest groups
One example that demonstrates this is when I had a former WWE Diva on my podcast. While I certainly did #11 above, I also contacted wrestling websites (as well as a fan site or two for that particular wrestler). Clearly they would want to hear what she had to say. Before you know it, now they are promoting your episode for you!
I’m writing this blog four days after the four-year anniversary for my “Now Hear This Entertainment” podcast. How did I draw attention to that? I had a bakery do four cupcakes in my show colors. One had an N on top. One had an H, one had a T, and one had an E. Four letters, four cupcakes, four years.
I took a picture of them and posted it on my Facebook page, my personal Facebook timeline, in my podcast’s Facebook group, on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, and in my e-newsletter. Heck, I even put the photo up as a post on my podcast’s Patreon campaign. You can also highlight show milestones (i.e. episode 50, episode 100, and so on).
14. Cross promote, cross promote, and then cross promote
I write a blog every Monday on my website and more often than not refer to my podcast in there, with a link over to it, of course. I will also refer to other blogs that have been written, with links over to those. Occasionally on the podcast I’ll be heard saying, “I wrote a blog about this recently. Listeners, go to NHTE.dot and click into the Blog section to go read that.” It keeps people engaged with the content that you’re creating.
This ties in nicely with the above in that – while I’m re-purposing content from the podcast to fill the eBook – I have links throughout so that readers can click to go and hear the interview that what they’re reading about was pulled from. Don’t create more work for yourself. My eBooks are a convenient workbook so that listeners don’t have to start all the way back at episode 1 to find out where I gave out the tip and what it was.
16. Refer to past episodes of your podcast
This might be my favorite out of this whole list. Just like with movie lines, I have a bizarre mental rolodex of past interviews that I’ve done. When I hear a guest talking about something that jogs my memory in relation to a previous conversation I’ve had with someone I’ll say, “Wow, I’m glad you brought that up. That’s a lot like what I talked about with (guest’s name) back on Episode (number).
Listeners, if you never heard that episode, go back and listen to my interview with (guest’s name).” What happens then is they go listen to that one, only to hear me employing the same tactic and sending them off to another related episode. And so on. (By the way, this also helps you become a better interviewer because it forces you to make sure you’re listening closely to what each guest is talking about.)
17. Do a “Best Of” episode
Not too different from the above, it enables you to tease – in one episode – a number of past podcasts you put out, in such a way that the listener will want to go hear other episodes that you’ve put out. PLUS, I did this twice (NHTE 101 and NHTE 203) and each time I emailed the dozen guests who were featured on each and let them know of this exclusive club they were in and voila, now I had 12 additional people promoting an episode for me!
18. Start a second podcast
Yup, it sounds like a daunting task, but, think about it. If someone comes to your new/second show but doesn’t know about the first, you’ll mention it and suddenly get folks listening to the one you’ve been doing all along. When TASCAM hired me to do a podcast for them, I was sure to ask for this allowance. Now, when you listen to “TASCAM Talkback” you will often hear me alluding to the fact that I also host “Now Hear This Entertainment.”
19. Contact constituents who were mentioned in your podcast
I interviewed a drummer who talked about the endorsement that he had, which led me to write to that drum company and tell them that this artist did that for them. They will thank you, puff their chest out, and put it out on their social media (and possibly their website and/or newsletter).
20. Record on-location (with branding)
When I do an interview on-site somewhere, not only do I wear a shirt, as recommended above, but I have a tabletop banner that I pop up so that passersby can quickly see what the interview is being done for. I even have branded mic flags to promote my podcast.
21. Ask someone you know to listen and provide feedback
Have the confidence, of course, that they’re going to like what they hear. But, know that this will make them feel trusted and almost part of the team. They will then become a promoter and tell friends about it. (“Yeah, he even asked me to listen and give him a little feedback. I was able to give him some advice that I’m going to be listening to see if he uses”)
22. Give a number for listeners to call
These people too will become a street team and tell others, “Listen to this episode of this podcast. They played back a voicemail I left on their message line.” Now all of a sudden other people are bringing listeners to your podcast.
The list is lengthy, I know. Rome wasn’t built in a day. But start chipping away at it. Use it as a checklist. See how many of these you can employ. And throughout it, if you feel overwhelmed and think you just can’t manage the time to try to promote your show, then remember, if not you, then who?
Bruce Wawrzyniak is the host of “Now Hear This Entertainment” (NHTE.net, iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitcher Radio, SoundCloud, and TuneIn Radio). He has gotten listeners from 132 countries, spanning all five regions of the world (Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania).
He is proud to have delivered a new episode on-time, every week for four years. Thanks to the image that he has created for NHTE, using the very strategies discussed above, he has gotten guests ranging from Roy Orbison, Jr., to the keyboard player for Aerosmith to the lead guitar player for Garth Brooks to the drummer for Joe Walsh to the trumpet player for Billy Joel, plus, two Grammy Award winners, a Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, a Las Vegas headliner, two Emmy Award winners, and even participants from “American Idol,” “The Voice,” “America’s Got Talent,” and “The X Factor”.
Bruce also hosts “TASCAM Talkback” (a podcast for podcasters and streamers) and their new “Capture Your Art” podcast, which highlights TASCAM and TEAC gear as well as the equipment users.