You’ve started a podcast and now you need to build an audience.
What’s the best way to do so?
Here are some ways to promote your podcast free (or cheap, I admit some of these are not free). Marketing your podcast online is much like marketing anything else on the internet: you need to use the readily available resources and tools to create awareness and increase your fan base.
1) Social Media Networks
Start with word of mouth and share with your friends, family, and colleagues, first and foremost–depending on what your ultimate goal and the purpose of your podcast is. Word of mouth has been one of the oldest and the most efficient ways to let individuals learn about a product or service and in this case, your podcast. It’s also the main way I grew the Fire On Your Head platform.
With the help of social media, your podcast has the ability to spread further, and what better way than to first go to those who know you on some level and might just be willing to share with their friends and followers?
Ask all your friends to check out your podcast, and if possible, review it on iTunes and other podcatchers. Have them share with their friends or connections who’d be interested in your topic or niche. [For the uninitiated, social media networks include Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, but there are myriad more.]
You can generate a lot of followers much faster on Twitter than you can on Facebook. On the other hand, Facebook allows you to interact with fans much more easily. So use them both together. Drive fans from Twitter to your Facebook fan page where you can interact and get to know them. Then post the links to your current shows on your fan page as they become available.
2) E-mail Lists
You would think electronic mail is old school since the explosion of Facebook in the last decade. However, e-mail is still extremely efficient for spreading the word. You are in control of it, unlike social media, whose algorithms can change from one month to the next and diminish your reach.
Begin collecting e-mail addresses and develop your existing list. You can easily take advantage of cost-free membership tools like MailChimp. I suggest making a very simple-to-notice and easy-to-subscribe-to button somewhere on your sidebar, or a pop-up or any non-intrusive way of inviting your visitors to sign-up for your email blasts.
Have this in place on your site right away before even promoting your show. You need to catch people who are willing to opt-in for your email content as early as possible to start your mailing list.
Another tip: have an incentive for signing up for your mailing list, like a free bonus of some kind that visitors will only receive if they sign up for your newsletter. For the longest time, I’ve been offering a free copy of one of my audiobooks to people who sign up for the Fire On Your Head newsletter. The audiobook is consistent with how a lot of my fans are consuming my audio content through the podcast, and now they can have a free book I’ve recorded myself.
The email opt-in incentive comes in handy later as you build trust and people can have the opportunity to forward your email content on to others.
3) Press Releases
Prior to when the internet became popular, companies used newspapers to obtain direct exposure. Nowadays we can do the same thing on the internet. You can pay for a press release about your products and services. This method can be pricey, but nevertheless, it’s a simple and efficient method to market your podcast.
Start a blog site for your podcast. You can get your site placed on search engines for pertinent keywords, so your potential target audience can discover you while searching for something related to what you’re offering on your show. I did the reverse, and already had been blogging regularly for a few years before I got the bright idea to start a podcast, so it seemed like a natural fit.
Another way to market your podcast is with other bloggers. Search for writers that share related content, then comment and engage with them, and when appropriate, share your podcast. If you guest blog on someone else’s site, you can use your byline to link to your show.
5) Your Audience Itself
After you have started growing your tribe and your audience has shown signs of growth, you can ask your listeners to show their support by sharing with their friends, as word-of-mouth is worth far more than any marketing campaign. This has also resulted in future guests being on Fire On Your Head.
You never know how this can turn out for you if you merely ask. You have not because you ask not, right?
6) Promote Your Podcast Free With Contests & Giveaways
Organizing a contest is yet another way to grow your fan base. There are many ways you can go about it, but here are a few pointers;
- Promote a contest and its prize on social media channels. Tell everybody you can, and then only release the contest information in a podcast episode. This way, people have an incentive to subscribe and listen to that particular episode of your podcast
- If your podcast focuses on a subject related to a particular product type, reach out to manufacturers and ask about doing a review on your show. There’s a chance they’ll send you some kind of review copy to try out. You can ask them if they would like to do a giveaway with it as a form of cross-promotion. Most PR reps will jump at the opportunity to cheaply sponsor a giveaway, knowing that the participants that don’t win the product will be more inclined to make the purchase.
7) Brand Yourself in Other Media Channels
Like I mentioned earlier, this can and should include a website or a blog. But also make sure to use video, for example. Create a YouTube or Vimeo channel for your video podcasts and post your videos if they are less than 15 minutes. Put the link of your show at the beginning of the description and also on the screen a few times throughout. But don’t just publish the audio of your podcast to YouTube, but maybe include video or behind the scenes footage while you’re creating an episode of your podcast.
8) Be Different & Original
Since there are probably hundreds of thousands of podcasts all over the Internet (if not many more), always think ahead of the pack and ask yourself how you can make your show stand out from the rest? Think of some remarkable and brilliant gimmicks or features that will leave people amazed or talking about your show. Do you have a unique take on your subject or niche? Are you sharing content that nobody else has thought of trying?
Make a show that people will find memorable and, well, they’ll remember you.
9) Special Guests & Cross-promotion
I’ve been doing this for a while now, and I think a big part of the Fire On Your Head ‘s growth has come from having like-minded guests on the show, especially if they have a blog, ebook or podcast of their own to promote. The guest on the program almost always plugs their appearance through their social media channels, and as a result, brings their readers or listeners to check out that episode of the podcast.
Often times people who are growing a blog following of their own are more than happy to take the invitation to be on your show. But, why not ask high-profile guests who already have a large following of their own? This is probably harder, but well worth your time. You’d be surprised at who might say yes.
Probably the easiest group to contact are authors or writers. Then, if they are happy with how the podcast interview went, they are more than likely going to share with their fan base and expose those people to your show and maybe you’ll pick up some new subscribers and listeners from it.
10) Podcast Directories
A podcast directory is just what it sounds like — a directory of podcasts. Submitting your RSS feed to different podcast directories is not something I’m 100% sure is effective, but the result can be some great back-linking for search engine optimization (S.E.O.) Unless your podcast is already well-known, people will certainly never straight-up search Google for your podcast. In fact, many of the people who will find your podcast won’t do so from having looked for it. They might stumble upon it if you’ve done good keyword ranking so people will find your show while searching for others.
It might be hard for me to cover how to market your podcast without taking a minute to discuss this one. When a podcast is first starting out, this could prove to be a great way to help generate buzz, particularly if you plan to continue your show with a little something truly special.
One simple method to try starting out is Facebook sidebar ads and sponsored posts. But usually, you need to already have a fan page so make sure you’ve got one.
Another is Google Adwords, but if you don’t know what you’re doing you could blow a lot of money. Do some research to learn the best practices. But always remember NOT to spend any money on ads that you don’t mind losing if you do it wrong.
By no means is this list exhaustive. You can market your podcast in any creative way you can think of — email signatures or be putting it on business cards and other offline methods of advertising.
But these are some ideas to help you rock your podcast mojo and spread the word about your show.
And finally, have fun and don’t try to be something you’re not! Just do the podcast you want to do, and let your audience find you, which they will if you follow these steps and give your show time.