Podcast promotion is HARD
The question “how to promote a podcast” comes up ALL the time on Reddit, in FB groups, on Twitter, etc. Generally-speaking, podcasts are created by one person, and that person handles every facet of the show, from production to hosting to marketing. As someone who hosts and produces her own show, I can tell you this: it’s far too much work for one person to do, especially in their spare time. But still, we do it. And many of us do it because we absolutely love the process, and we think there’s a place in the world for our idea. There are all kinds of shows out there, all because one person came up with an idea that other people enjoy as well. When you create a podcast, you take a chance.
The reason why podcast promotion is hard is because marketing, in general, is hard. Whether you call it promotion, marketing, advertising, sharing, whatever – it’s all hard. And that’s because a lot of us start shows without having huge online communities of our own in place. It’s not that hard for celebrities or existing online personalities to get traction. It IS hard for ‘nobodies’ to find their audience.
First, treat your guests like gold
First off, forget about promotion. Forget about marketing. If you do an interview show, treat your guests like gold. Why? Because they’re more likely to help you promote the show. They’re more likely to recommend other guests. And, you’re more likely to be seen as a professional and not just some hobbyist who’s in it for the money. Take my word, you don’t create a podcast to make money. The phrase “monetize a podcast” should just die, because it can take years to make a bit of money online and too many people think they can make that happen in just a few weeks, after just a few episodes.
No, forget all that. Your guests come first. Show up on time for the recording, manage their expectations as to how long the recording will take, say your goodbyes and then get to work. Recording is the easy part. Creating content to show off your interview and your guests is the most tedious part of all. Even editing takes less time. But, trust me, all of the content you create, whether they’re audiograms, quote cards, YouTube clips, all of that goes towards a build-up of quality content that will help you – AND YOUR GUESTS – down the road. Remember: it isn’t about you. It’s about them.
Below, you’ll see that I create a wide variety of social media content for each guest, for each episode. I send that to them the day before the podcast episode airs. I use it for the podcast’s own promotion, but this is a fantastic way for a guest to promote themselves on their websites and social media accounts too!
There are rules, and then, there are YOUR rules
I’ve found a lot of podcast marketing literature to be completely useless because it pretends to follow a formula that, even when you follow it, doesn’t always provide you with the best of results. Instead, I think it’s best to do some things your own way. For example, one of the most common recommendations in the podcast marketing world is to promote your show in Facebook groups. I roll my eyes at this. Not because it doesn’t work – it sometimes does. But, it’s not applicable to everyone. Also, many FB groups that permit promotion end up being deluged by commercial posts. The other thing is, who’s your audience?? Do they even use Facebook?
For my own show, I’ve found that I get better traction on Twitter. I have a FB page and an Instagram account, but to be honest with you all – I’m thinking of blowing them out of the water. They’re both a pain to manage and the only real way to get traction on these two networks these days is through ads. If you have an ad budget, or if you have an existing group or large following on FB, then of course – use it! If not, it’s not a wise game to play. Unless you feel like it.
So, just make up your own rules based on what’s a good fit for your podcast. I use the term “rules” lightly, by the way. What I really mean is this: test things out. See what works. Cast a wide net, and see where there’s traction. Get rid of the places where people aren’t interested. Try a new network. Try TikTok or Pinterest. “But, that takes so much time!” Yeah, it does. It’s hard, remember?
Create good content
No, but seriously, how many times does it have to be said? Create solid content that isn’t always about promotion. There’s nothing wrong with having a Twitter account for your show where you tweet clips from episodes or post quote cards. In fact, I do this regularly on Twitter. But, there’s gotta be more. If you’re a writer, then write a blog about the topic, niche or genre of your show. A murder mystery podcaster could start a blog about famous real-life murder stories. A boxing podcaster could interview boxers and then post about their individual careers in a separate blog article. If you’re better at videos, then do weekly shows on YouTube, on top of the podcast episodes. Create a piece of content every single day. Use Canva. Use Headliner. Use whatever tools at your disposal.
Over and over again, I see podcasters create a show, post a handful of episodes, promote their episodes on a social network or two and then a month later, they say “nothing’s working”. I hate to break it to ya, but again, if you don’t have an ad budget, you’ve gotta rely on what we call “organic growth”. That means, working your butt off on creating a ton of content to grow your show, your website, and your social media accounts.
The best way to do this is to set a schedule, much like you’d set a schedule to record. Except, this time, you’re setting up a schedule to create images, videos and/or blog posts. Even if it’s just 30min a day, that adds up! It takes me about 12 hours to create all of the content to promote ONE episode. That includes YouTube clips, audiograms, quote cards, tags, and sometimes, a transcript. On top of that, I’ve begun setting up a new schedule to write a new blog article every Tuesday. Your schedule will be different based on your available time, and what kind of content you want to produce for your show. Just stick to it. You’ll see that you’ll get into a groove after a while!
Even a great show takes time to show results
If you’re in a rush, if you think you’ll make a living at podcasting in the next 12-24 months, get out of the game. There’s a reason why studios have engineers, hosts, admin staff, booking agents, marketers, strategists, content creators, and producers. If you’re doing it all on your own, you have to play every role. And, I guarantee you, the marketing/content creation role will take more time than all of the others combined. Even if your show is absolutely fantastic, if you’re a fairly new face in the online world, it’ll take a long while to start seeing your audience growing.
If you really, truly enjoy doing it, then have some faith that over a year or two, you’ll start seeing some loyal audience members give you good ratings, sharing your show, telling their friends about it. I started seeing this after just a few months. It feels really nice to see someone publicly recommend your podcast to other people. And some shows, even the most deserving ones, just never manage to break through all the noise. There are so many new podcasts these days that it’s just getting harder and harder to get noticed. Just give it time. Keep improving the quality. Keep blogging or creating additional content. If you know basic SEO, make your website more searchable. And, if you don’t have a website: get one!
In the end, you’re learning new skills
Whether your podcast becomes more popular or not, you’re learning new skills just by being a podcaster. I setup an alert on Indeed the other day for podcasting gigs, and there are so many jobs available to skilled podcasters now! Worse comes to worse, you could work as an engineer, as a producer, or as a host. I’ve decided to specialize in interview shows. It’s what I love the most about podcasting: interviewing people. Podcasting has made it possible to get radio experience without having to find a job in the radio industry. That’s a HUGE step forward for us.
Other than that, as you start to market your show, you’re learning more about content creation, content marketing, search engine optimization. See? It’s never a waste of time. Plus, your guests are getting promotion through your show. The more effort you put into it, the more you gain from it, especially from a professional standpoint. Make sure to put your podcast on your resume because it is a job, it is work, and it absolutely involves a whole slew of transferable skills that you can show off to your future employer, or to your future clients should you decide to do consulting.
Make the most out it. I do wish I could be more help, but the hard truth is that without throwing money at it, the best way to promote your show is to keep doing it, diversify the content, post every day, expand the website, find the social networks that work for you, and treat your guests like they’re kings and queens. Think about it: it’s YOUR show. You’ve created a show that’s online for anyone and everyone to hear. You’ve put your own little mark on the world. That alone is a pretty cool thing. Give it time, and who knows, maybe that’ll be your legacy.
Want to hire me for your show? Let’s talk: fill out this form, or contact me directly at julielaurin AT gmail DOT com.