Boom! You published another amazing podcast episode, and now it’s time to put on your marketing hat to promote it. Maybe you post a photo on Instagram and link on Twitter, but, eh, you’re just ticking a box.
We hear from our Sounder creators that promoting their podcast is generally a pesky task that they know they have to do to grow their listener-base, but don’t enjoy. First, we’d love to do a little re-framing of this aversion to promotion.
Let’s say you decide to cook spaghetti from scratch. (Stick with me.) You buy the flour and local eggs, find your Grandma’s recipe and pop on an apron. You even decide, what the hell, let’s make the sauce from scratch! For hours you kneed, chop, roll, and cook. Glee fills your heart. Smells of Italy fill your home. Alas, you finish with far more than you can eat by yourself. You plate your creation, sprinkle on some Parmesan, and enjoy the freshest spaghetti you’ve ever tasted. You grab your phone to call your mom, or invite over a friend, or Gram a photo, or… AH HA.
Promotion is just the process of telling people about something you’re proud of.
Promotion is just the process of telling people about something you’re proud of — screaming from the rooftops about your fantastic new episode. Without it, you’ll be eating spaghetti alone. The way you promote your show to new and existing fans speaks to your brand identity. It’s an extension of your lister’s experience.
We asked 11 new and seasoned podcasters how they successfully promote their show. And no, it’s not all about social media (seriously). You can do a ton of off-social promoting to grow your audience. Creativity doesn’t have to stop when you hit publish. In fact, it’s the creativity of these featured podcasters that got them in this article in the first place (more on that below). Try different things! Switch it up from week to week! Have some fun!
1. Go to networking events
“For the last five years, I’ve attended about seven or eight podcast fan festivals and comic conventions— places where my target audience goes. We typically purchase a table at each event and give away stickers, sell books, and raise awareness not only for our show but for podcasts in general. Many people at comic book conventions are oblivious that they can get free entertainment. We’ve made quite a few long-term fans that way.” — Travis Vengroff, co-host, and producer of The White Vault Podcast
“One of the hurdles podcasters and entrepreneurs in general experience when it comes to marketing is that networking feels icky. It’s important to kick ourselves out of the way and let our work speak for itself. When the right listener finds our show, it’s a win-win, and they get the support, advice, and sense of community that they need. If we don’t get over our angst about networking, they may never learn about our show and might miss out on all of the goodness.” — Robbie Samuels, host of On the Schmooze podcast and author of “Croissants vs. Bagels: Strategic, Effective, and Inclusive Networking at Conferences”
2. Tease your episodes with an interactive element
“Before recording every new episode, we post hypotheticals from the previous episode to our Instagram and allow our listener’s the final say. We then review the results of those polls at the beginning of each new podcast. Arguments About Nothing is a deep-dive into silly hypothetical questions, which lends itself pretty seamlessly to Instagram interactive polls. We also solicit questions from listeners to answer on the show. We hope that by creating a truly interactive product that our listeners will be more likely to recommend the podcast to their friends.” — Shelby Sampsel and Hannah Bennett, hosts of Arguments About Nothing
“I also solicit questions on social media that I promise to answer on the show. Listeners can email me a question, or they can record a question right on my website so that I can play the audio and then answer it. There is a simple website plug-in called SpeakPipe that makes this easy to set up.” — Will Bachman, co-founder & Managing Partner of Umbrex and the host of Unleashed
“There should be a step before the episode drops, and that is a teaser of what’s to come. It’s up to the show what that teaser is. It could be an audio clip, or a video teaser, or a picture with a waveform and text. There needs to be a social media push the day before the episode drops. — Brianna Peters, Founder/Owner of Gotham Podcast Studio, Host of Bit Different Podcast
3. Make it easy for your guests to share
“When it comes to promoting your podcast, don’t miss what’s right in front of you — your interviewee. The guest you invited on your podcast has their own following and community. They are the ones most likely to listen and share. Time and again, our most-listened-to episodes feature people who have active and engaged communities online. Here’s the secret sauce: You can’t just ask them to share in an email, you have to give your guest assets they are excited to use. For The Corporate Dropout podcast, we always share a bundle of images they can use that feature the guest and include the episode title and podcast name. Launch your episode with a wave of appreciation your guest can’t miss. Share the episode on Instagram, Instastory, LinkedIn, and Facebook, and be sure to tag your guest. Most often, guests will reciprocate and share the episode with their followers — and some of them will subscribe and become regular listeners.” — April Sciacchitano, co-founder of Mix+Shine Marketing and The Corporate Dropout podcast
“Give your guest really good assets to post on their social platforms. For instance, I’m working on launching an interview series with top Gen-Z influencers. They have unimaginably large audiences, larger than four times my max growth potential. To leverage this, I cut together materials that they can post on their social media. Everyone needs more content. The key is to create a piece that fits with their audience and to give them several options to choose from. Make it as little work for them as you can. I’ve been featured in vlogs that got 250,000+ views this way.” — Timothy Bach, Multi-Media Journalist, and Creative Lead at The Creator Factory
“Building an audience requires patience and persistence: following the steps below, I’ve reached a total 100,000 downloads after starting my show three years ago and publishing 225+ episodes. For each episode, I create a custom graphic that includes the photo and name of my guest, and then I send that graphic to my guest along with a permalink to the episode on my show’s website. I encourage my guests to post the graphic and link on LinkedIn, Twitter, or their website.” — Will Bachman, co-founder & Managing Partner of Umbrex and the host of Unleashed
“As a podcaster, you don’t want to speak into a vacuum. Meaning, if you continue to only talk to those who already listen and follow you, then you are missing out on huge potential listenership by not asking your guest to share with their community/followers/subscribers/etc. Explain to your guest how much it would help you and your show, most people will help, however they can.” — Brianna Peters, Founder/Owner of Gotham Podcast Studio, Host of Bit Different Podcast
4. Engage your local community
At first, Julie and Stacey didn’t have much to say about promotion, as their entrepreneurship podcast rose to popularity quite organically due to the idea behind it (they interview local businesses) and their connections in the Charleston area. I was like DING DING DING, let’s hear how they engaged their community, which is a form of promotion. Here’s what they had to say…
“We have quarterly get-togethers at a local cheese and wine shop, Goat, Sheep, Cow North. They’ve been on the podcast! Getting together ensures we keep up with what our previous guests are up to, and can also lead to new partnerships through friends of guests. We also support the people who have been on the podcast either by donating, referring, or shopping. People love to tell their stories, and we like to listen. It is a perfect way to get the best of both worlds. So as much as we can, we try to do the interviews face to face. The connection is super personal, and many times once the mic is turned off, our guests will sit for hours and continue telling stories. We built as a platform for people to tell their stories and use it for their own marketing needs.” — Julie & Stacey, Co-CEO’s & Founders of the GSD Entrepreneur podcast
5. Get fun tags from guests
“Have a script of maybe three different lines that you have all your guests read that promote you and your brand. You’ll see this done on E-News and Entertainment Tonight. Something like, “Hey guys, it’s X here, (you)’s the best podcast EVER… make sure you subscribe, like, and share! Here is an example from my own social. — Timothy Bach, Multi-Media Journalist, and Creative Lead at The Creator Factory
“When I interview someone, I ALWAYS get a tag for the show. You will always hear my podcast start with “Hi! This is such and such, and you are listening to Sound Vapors.” There is another use for guest tags as well. I create a quick 15-second video with the tag that they’ve recorded and use it on social media to announce an upcoming episode. Fans of the show really seem to get a kick out of these. This has been extremely effective for me. Bonus is — if the (in my case) artist or band re-tweets or IG Stories your video tag to their following, it creates that much more buzz.” — Tommy Marz, founder of Sound Vapors
6. Hand out physical swag
“I designed my business card to have a version of my podcast graphic on one side with the URL to my show and my business contact info on the other. Every time I hand out my card, I start by showing them my business side and then turn it over and point out my show. If they show interest, I ask if they listen to podcasts and, if so, which ones. That way, I’m engaging the topic of podcasting without overtly selling my show. Usually, as that conversation wraps up, they commit to giving my show a listen.” — Robbie Samuels, host of On the Schmooze podcast and author of “Croissants vs. Bagels: Strategic, Effective, and Inclusive Networking at Conferences”
7. Don’t just post, add value on social media
“From the LinkedInFormed podcast hosted by Mark Williams, I’ve learned how to make these LinkedIn posts more engaging. Instead of just saying, “here is the latest episode” with a summary, I always try to invite comments on my LinkedIn posts by posing a question. To anyone who comments or likes my LinkedIn post, I’ll send a connection request thanking them for the engagement and asking if they’d like to get the weekly email for my podcast. When people sign up for my weekly email, I send them a curated set of the Unleashed Essentials—selected set of episodes I see as the most practical and useful.” — Will Bachman, co-founder & Managing Partner of Umbrex and the host of Unleashed
“The most important part of podcast promotion is not promoting. Now I don’t mean you should never market your show, but the most compelling podcast recommendations travel through word of mouth. Thus, it’s critical to immerse yourself in your audience’s community to show you provide more value than a hasty hyperlink. Contribute to Twitter conversations, make niche memes only your audience would truly appreciate, talk shop with influencers, and reblog aesthetically pleasing, industry-relevant content on Tumblr. All this is good boots-on-the-ground proto-promotion that engenders trust. More specifically, we are a big fan of using Headliner, a free to start tool that helps content creators produce captioned audio snippets that can then be posted on social media. Rather than just linking a show and hinting at the topics covered, put your audio right on someone’s timeline to hook them into hearing the rest!” — Dan Goubert, Co-Host of The Empty Bowl and Creator of Cerealously
“After your episode drops, post about the episode and make sure to ask questions to your audience. Remember, social media was made to be social, not to just talk at each other but with each other.” — Brianna Peters, Founder/Owner of Gotham Podcast Studio, Host of Bit Different Podcast
8. Talk about your show in real life
“As far as advocating in our day to day lives, we both have taken different tacks. Hannah added the podcast to her LinkedIn and the signature of her personal emails. We’ve gotten listeners from both of those strategies. For my birthday this year, I asked my friends and family on Facebook and Instagram to download the podcast in lieu of wishing me Happy Birthday, which resulted in the largest spike in downloads that we’ve seen. “I have a podcast” has become my go-to fun fact about myself. I even mention it on my dating apps, which has also turned out to be a winning strategy. Hannah works at a smaller company, so everyone at her office knows about it. I work at a larger company. An all-company email would be a little inappropriate, but most of the people I work with regularly know about it. Basically, anyone who would ask me, “Hey, how was your weekend?” knows about it because my go-to response is “It was good. I worked on my podcast.” My advice to people trying to get a podcast off the ground would be to have your elevator pitch ready and be proud of your work.” — Shelby Sampsel and Hannah Bennett, hosts of Arguments About Nothing
9. Get on HARO
“I respond to two or three HARO pitches a week. What I like to do is try to find any tangential connection to gardening and give as much value as possible, and then let the chips fall where they may. That’s led to my work being used without credit but also some incredible guest features on some great publications (cough cough) that I would never have gotten on otherwise.” — Kevin Espiritu, founder of Epic Gardening
10. Make your show a website
Team Sounder stepping in here with this one. A website is like passive promotion (ahh, can you hear the ocean waves?). It’s a collection of your brand, show, contact information, and blogs that hang out on the internet and pop up for people who are curious about your topic. And while social media is a great way to promote your show, it changes on a dime. You need the space to build a brand that YOU own. Someplace you can send listeners, collect emails, and sell swag.
11. Be yourself
“I feel like this goes without saying, but a key aspect to making any podcast successful is being yourself, and that extends into promotion as well. Make sure that while promoting your podcast, you are the same genuine self at all times. People see right through fake influence.” — Timothy Bach, Multi-Media Journalist, and Creative Lead at The Creator FactorySounder.fm