The One Thing All Podcasters Can Do to Engage More Listeners
Taking the leap to begin your own podcast can feel intimidating. When I talk to folks who are considering getting into podcasting or who have recently begun releasing episodes, a lot of the same questions come up.
Can podcasting help me sell my course/book/product? Do I need a website for my podcast? How do I get more listeners? Is this even the right time to start podcasting?
If you find yourself asking any of these questions, I want to assure you that it’s not too late to build a successful podcast that will complement your work. Keep reading to learn:
- Why the best thing you can do to support your podcast is to create a dedicated web page for every single episode.
- What to include on a robust show notes page.
- How to avoid a common podcaster mistake and how to get your listeners to do what you want.
I have long encouraged anyone who is interested in starting a podcast to do so, and as an author and course creator myself, I strongly believe that podcasting is one of the best marketing and promotion tools available. But with so many great shows out there, active podcast listeners may wonder if podcasting has reached a saturation point. I think the numbers suggest otherwise.
Buzzsprout reports that as of October 2021 there are 2.1 million podcasts, and only 64% — or 1.4 million — are active. By comparison, there are more than 37 million YouTube channels (yet you rarely hear anyone suggest that video content has reached saturation).
Perhaps a bigger challenge than competition from other podcasts is the issue of holding your listeners’ attention. The very thing that makes podcasting so powerful is its intimacy — listeners will invite your voice into their ears at home, in the car, while commuting, gardening or exercising. And while this is a great way to get potential customers to know, like and trust you, it also means that your listeners are multitasking — and likely not hanging on your every word.
Based on Episode 232 of How I Built It, here’s a look at how to use your podcast’s website to connect with your audience and grow your podcast.
Your podcast needs a website
When your focus is on creating great podcast episodes, it can be tempting to push other things — such as building a website — off to the side. After all, listeners can find your podcast on any number of platforms that offer a feed page. Why not just send people there?
The problem with relying on feed pages from Apple or your podcast hosting platform is that they are limited in their capabilities and objectives. A podcasting platform is all about syndication, whereas your objective as a podcaster is to welcome and connect with listeners, and ultimately to engage them with your product, course, book, etc.
A great website will turn your podcast from a one-way street (you post episodes, they listen, end of story) into a two-way street where you invite listeners to join your community, your mailing list or your paid membership.
Learn how podcast pros produce their shows…
…and how you can improve yours.
One breakdown, delivered to your inbox weekly.
Learn the tools and processes used by top podcasters and reclaim hours of your life every week.
What to put on your podcast’s homepage
Your podcast website doesn’t need to be fancy, but you should include a few essential elements on the homepage to help listeners know they’ve arrived at the right place.
- Your podcast artwork, for easy visual recognition
- A headline that describes the mission of your show
- A brief description of your show with a clear way to listen (This could be your latest episode or a link to a list of episode pages — more on that below.)
- Subscribe buttons (I like the Podcast Subscribe Buttons plugin for WordPress.)
- A bit about you, why you started the show and what listeners will learn
- An opt-in to your email list
Every episode needs its own web page
The #1 recommendation I offer to podcasters is this: create a dedicated show notes page for each and every episode of your show.
Why? A dedicated episode page provides ONE destination where listeners can find all of the information they are looking for — including ways to connect.
🎤 Top Tip: Make your show notes URLs something that is easy to say and remember. I use the structure
https://howibuilt.it/EPISODE-NUMBER and have that URL redirect to one that is more search engine-friendly.
What to put on each episode’s show notes page
Here are the elements that every episode page should include:
🎧 An audio player where someone could listen to the episode right then and there
📝 A couple of paragraphs of description (which could be the same as what you put into your podcast summary on your feed)
🔗Relevant links — It’s OK not to include every single thing that’s mentioned, but do make sure you cover any book recommendations, on-topic tools and a way to connect with your guests
💡 Top 3-4 takeaways from the episode — These provide great context to help listeners decide whether to listen, as well as more content for search engines to crawl
👍 Social media share buttons
💜 Subscribe buttons
🖱️ A clear call-to-action — mailing list sign-up, content upgrades, paid membership, etc.
Why clear calls-to-action matter
If you’re a podcast listener, you’ve heard the standard episode closing, which sounds something like this:
Hey, thanks so much for listening. Be sure to rate us and review us on Apple Podcasts, follow us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Be sure to share this with a friend. Check out the show notes over here. Thanks to our sponsors, blah, blah, blah…”
This is one of the most common mistakes I see among podcasts. It’s just too many things to throw at your audience, who — as I mentioned — are likely involved in doing something else while they listen to your show.
Your clear call-to-action should be ONE thing and one thing only.
Make your clear call-to-action work for you
Keeping your calls-to-action (or CTAs) simple doesn’t have to limit your creativity or lock you into one request forever. Here are some ways to change it up while still keeping things straightforward for your listener:
- Experiment with what works best. Use a single CTA — like “sign-up for my newsletter” for a few episodes and see if you notice a bump in subscriptions. If it’s not working how you wanted, change it up for the next few episodes.
- Use a single destination (the show notes page), but change up the CTA that accompanies it. Think of the episode page as the portal to everything related to your show, so whether you’re asking people to check out your membership or share the episode with a friend, they’ll know the episode page is where they can find what they need.
- Don’t wait until the end to make your request. I’ve been sharing my clear CTA right at the beginning of each episode, and it’s working out really well.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat! You can’t overstate your clear CTA, so be sure to mention it several times throughout the episode.
📧 Top Tip: Building your email list is a great place to focus. The social media outages in October 2021 were a great reminder that you might not always be able to rely on third-party platforms to reach your audience. When in doubt, point people to your email sign-up (on your show notes page)!