There are times in life when you have a fairly captive audience. You’re giving a lecture at a college where attendance is required. You’re the keynote speaker at a conference. You’re leading a meeting at work. You’re explaining to your wife why CSS Custom Properties are the bee’s knees1. But a podcast…and most online content…is the opposite of that. In-fact, unlike all of the examples names above, the audience might not even know your podcast exists. To get more downloads, you not only need to engage the audience. You need to find the audience.
Why Downloads Matter
Let’s face it: downloads are a bit of a vanity metric. And lots of podcasters will tell you downloads don’t matter. Heck, I’ve probably said before. But here’s the rub: it’s no fun talking to an empty room.Some will say podcast downloads don't matter. But it's not fun talking to an empty room. Click To Tweet
It’s true that you shouldn’t compare yourself to Pat Flynn or Joe Rogan. If you have a show that only appeals to 1,000 people, 100 downloads per episode is incredible. But you always want to see measurable growth in your projects2, and right now, downloads is the best way to measure growth.
So how can you get more downloads? Here are 5 ways.
1. Share Every Episode with Your Audience
That means tweet it, share it in your community, send it to your newsletter, and everywhere else you have a following.
This one is easy to overlook. Surely your own audience is already subscribed to your podcast and will see the episodes, right? Probably not. That’s why they follow you on whatever medium they follow you on. They want you to put it in front of them.Don't assume your mailing list is already subscribed to your podcast. Tell them about new episodes. Click To Tweet
After I started focusing my newsletter on my podcast episodes, I saw an uptick in downloads and engagement. Don’t make your audience hunt for your podcast. Serve it to them on a silver platter.
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2. Make Your CTA to Share with a Friend
Your CTA is important. It should be clear, singular, and repeated. You should also think about the main goal of your podcast when considering your CTA.
But if your goal early on is to grow your podcast, then your CTA should be a major part of that strategy. And while asking for a rating and review in Apple Podcasts purportedly helps, it will be a lot more impactful to ask your current audience to share the episode with their audience, or even their friends.Asking your audience to share your episodes can be a great way to grow your listeners. Click To Tweet
These are people who already listen and like what you’re doing. Plus personal recommendations have a lot more weight behind them than AI-driven recommendations.
3. Ask Your Guests to Share with Their Audience
On that same token, you should always ask your guests to share with their audience. One of the big benefits of going on a podcast is reaching a new audience, and most guests are willing to return the favor. After all, the insight they provide on your show might be new to their audience too.Don't be afraid to ask your guest to share their interview. Podcast interviews are a mutually beneficial audience growth opportunity. Click To Tweet
Mine automatically get an email letting them know it’s live, a link, and a small request to share, if they want. One change I’d like to make for this process is to share a folder of social media images to make their jobs even easier. Speaking of…
4. Create Audiograms
An audiogram is a short video (30-60 seconds) that highlights a snippet from your podcast:
According to a study from Headliner, you can get up to 5X more engagement on audiograms than static images. There are a few ways you can create them:
- One way is using Headliner. It’s a free tool and while you need to create an account, it’s a pretty low barrier of entry. You will need to know the timestamp of the quote and prepare all the images. Castos integrates automatically with Headliner.
- Descript is another great tool for the job. This is a paid subscription, but you can generate a transcript and easily find the quote you’re looking for.
- My favorite method is Overcast, a podcast listening app for iOS. From directly within the app, you can grab part of the episode and create a “clip.” The clip will include your podcast’s artwork and an animated waveform.
5. Play with Titles and Descriptions
For a long time, my episode titles were just Name of Guest and Company. These, while informative as to who was on the show, told the listeners nothing of what they’d learn. To boot, the descriptions all started, “In this episode…”.
The titles and descriptions are the first impression (well, maybe after the associated image/audiogram) that potential listeners get. They should know what they’ll learn. Make sure your headline entices and your description says exactly what you’ll talk about. Think of a few different headlines and test!
Some Bonus Tips
Aside from the 5 above, there are a few bonus tips you can have totally for free!
- Have transcripts. This makes all of the content on your episode indexable by search engines. Plus, while it won’t help with downloads, some people prefer to read over listen, so that’s still eyeballs on your content.
- Be consistent. Something that hurts podcasts is unpredictability. Being consistent tells listeners you’re willing to show up and do the work. And that makes them more confident as they invest their time into your content.
- Have a CTA at the beginning of the episode. Most podcasts have their CTA at the end of the episode. You lose a lot of listeners during the sign up. So hit them with it at the beginning as well. A “real quick,” then your ask can go a long way for conversions. My newsletter has grown consistently since adding a CTA to the beginning.
How With You Grow Your Show?
There are lots of ways to grow you show. These 53 tips will help you get more downloads, increase your listener base, and meet the real goals you have for your podcast.
- This may or may not be based on a real conversation.
- Especially if you have a business-based goal.