Are These Seven Myths Holding You Back From Podcasting?

Welcome to the first edition of Sounder’s Coaching Series, where we invite experts from around the podcasting industry to offer advice and answer common questions. Together we can podcast smarter! Today we welcome Travis Brown from PodDecks to debunk several common interview and hosting myths.

Podcasts have become one of the world’s favorite forms of entertainment, with the number of listeners and podcasts growing every day.

With more than 30 million podcast episodes available for streaming and millions of fans hungry for more content worldwide, it’s never been a better time for creators to enter the podcasting space. It’s shamelessly my favorite medium too, which is why I love my job at Podcast Buddy. For the last seven years, I’ve coached new podcasters through planning, launching, editing, and growing their new show. I’ve also talked with countless creators who dream of finally starting a podcast but are hesitant to even try. Why? Myths about hosting that lead to a lack of confidence.

There are tons of podcasting falsehoods about what it means to be a “good” podcast host. After launching over 100 shows and editing over 2,000 episodes, it’s become clear to me that these myths need to be addressed. Most of them are nonsense, but they hold perfectly capable people back from fulfilling their podcast dreams. We don’t want that. In this guide, I’m going to debunk seven popular myths about what it means to be a “good” podcast host and interviewer. There’s room for everyone in podcasting because it’s not a one-size-fits-all medium. Style and personality are celebrated!

1. Only extraverts make good hosts

If you’ve ever thought about creating a podcast, but are concerned that you aren’t extraverted enough to be a compelling host, I’ve got news for ya! While an extravert can certainly be a good podcast host, you don’t have to be massively outgoing to be a fantastic interviewer. There’s a myth out there saying that extraverts are the best and most successful hosts and interviewers, likely because they are branded as socially adept members of society.

The truth? Introverts have a built-in superpower when it comes to interviewing: listening. See, the key to a good interview is to ask your question, then shush up and listen to what your guest has to say! As a host, you should never be dominating the conversation, since interviewing is less about having a back-and-forth conversation and more about setting up your guests to be able to share their stories. To be fair, extraverts may have the advantage when it comes to a conversation-style show between two or more hosts. But extraverts, introverts, and everyone in between can be great podcast hosts, as long as they are willing to listen!

2. Finding interesting guests every week is impossible

First-time podcasters typically have a handful of guests in mind when they start. Once the list is exhausted in the first few episodes, they find themselves at a loss for new ideas and slowly peter out. While it’s true that finding interesting and relevant guests is an essential piece of the podcasting puzzle, the process is often much easier than people think. Here are a few simple tricks to help you find exciting podcast guests.

  • Join communities of podcasters on social media (try Facebook and Reddit groups). Communities like Podcasting Mastermind Group and Podcast Guest Connection are easy to join and friendly! You can connect with other podcasters, find guests, and trade interviews.
  • Reach out to podcast hosts in the same niche. Interviewing other podcasters who focus on similar topics is a great way to get more exposure and to establish yourself within a given community.
  • Write to your favorite creators, innovators, business owners, etc. If you have a favorite author, why shouldn’t you shoot them an email to let them know you are a fan and would love to interview them? Once you start reaching out, you’ll be surprised by how many people show interest.

Don’t sweat the rejections. Often a “no” is simply due to limited scheduling bandwidth and has nothing to do with the size or reach of your show. Simply offer to follow up in a couple of weeks. Make a great impression and leave the door open for future collaborations.

3. No one will want to be a guest on a small show

Many creators hold off developing their podcasts because they believe they will not be able to book prominent guests without thousands of listeners. It’s a little like the chicken and the egg. The truth is, it’s not about the size of your show, it’s about the quality of your pitch! No matter who you are asking to appear on your show, the most crucial step is to present it as an opportunity.

Start by demonstrating how their unique perspective or expertise fits with the topic of your podcast. Then describe your audience’s demographic and interests. Remember, you are giving your guests the opportunity to engage with a niche audience (no matter the size). Guesting on podcasts is also a great way to get a free piece of content and publicity, which people rarely say no to!

4. You need a broadcast background to succeed at podcasting

Podcasting has become more accessible than ever before, with free programs, hosting providers, tools, and consulting companies. Despite being a relatively easy medium to enter into, many still believe that podcasting is reserved for broadcast professionals with expensive equipment, technical background, or years of experience in radio.

While a background in broadcasting may help with creating a podcast, it certainly isn’t necessary to become a successful podcast host. More important than experience is the willingness to start small, learn, ask questions, network, and keep a consistent schedule. Starting a podcast is fun but growing a podcast takes time and passion.

5. Preparing for an interview takes hours

Inviting guests to be on your podcast can be intimidating, especially if you are interviewing someone you look up to or someone influential in your industry. Lots of novice podcasters find themselves trapped doing hours of research prior to their interviews, worried that they might miss important information or critical questions.

While it is true that you should know a handful of facts about your guest, like how they can educate or entertain your audience, you don’t need to know their full life story. I advise my clients to search for their guest’s other interviews and check out some of the questions they have been asked before to see the topics they generally discuss. Then I recommend hosts prepare unique questions accordingly. By listening to how guests answered in the past, you can uniquely approach topics that will serve your audience. This tactic also helps your guests sound well-rounded and offers them the space to expand their insight.

6. Every interview has to follow the same format

One common myth novice podcasters fall prey to is that you should be asking the same questions to each one of your guests. I’ve found this idea comes from the theory that having guests answer the same questions can help create better brand consistency, giving listeners something to grab onto when they first encounter your podcast.

There is no reason to ask every guest the same question, and doing so can actually drive away listeners rather than draw them in. Tailor your questions to the individual, and leave room for a unique flow to take place. Each guest has an interesting background and perspective, so try to create a handful of talking points that highlight their knowledge, passion, or expertise. Some podcasters ask the same questions to kick things off or end the conversation as more of a hook or gimmick. This is fine as long as the rest of your interview is unique to each guest.

7. I’m not creative enough

Another common misconception holding people back from becoming podcast creators is that it is challenging to come up with interesting topics and questions. Sometimes it seems like they’ve all been covered before. Lots of creators fear their interview questions won’t be good enough to make a compelling podcast, forgetting that the juice is in the answers.

As you prepare for each interview, it is only necessary to create a few open-ended, leading questions that can help to get your guest started. Once the interview is on a roll, simply asking “why” can be a great way to enter deeper into the mind of your guest, one layer at a time.

Still feeling at a loss for decent interview questions? There are lots of ways to develop interesting questions. Jot down your favorite questions from interview-based shows you enjoy, carry a notebook during the day to write down ideas, or use tools like Pod Decks, so you always have interesting questions right in the palm of your hand.

Feeling inspired to create your own podcast? Check out Podcast Buddy to learn how we can help you create professional-sounding podcasts without having any professional experience. And get to know Sounder.fm, a free hosting platform that provides all the tools you need to grow an audience.

7 Signs It’s Time To Invest In A Professional Podcast Studio

Welcome back to our Sounder Coaching Series, where we invite experts from around the podcasting industry to help you podcast smarter! Today, Andrew Santiago and Marvin Perdomo, co-founders of Bravery Studios, are here to explain to growing podcasters when it’s time to invest in their show. From sound engineering, to branding, to consulting, this duo has helped countless podcasters level up to their full potential.

You’re probably producing a podcast by yourself — planning episodes, booking guests, recording, editing, making graphics, running your social media, engaging with fans, tracking promotion opportunities, and everything else that comes along with scaling a successful podcast.

If not, you’re working with a freelancer here and there to help alleviate the workload but managing that sometimes feels like another task added to your plate. What’s the solution? You may ask yourself.

We started Bravery Studios four years ago for this reason: to help growing podcasters take their recording, editing, and show to the next level. It’s a similar goal for podcast recording studios everywhere. Because we know there’s a point in a podcaster’s career where momentum picks up, and quality becomes essential to growth.

But it’s not always so apparent to podcasters when to start investing in themselves, so we put together a list of 7 ways to tell when it’s time to pack up your closet recording studio and invest in a professional recording studio and team.

1. When you get higher profile guests

You’re not interviewing your friends from college anymore! When your audience and brand grow to the point of attracting high-profile guests and influencers, it’s time to invest in professional studio time.

Environment plays an important role when recording and working with guests. You want to give your guests the impression that you take their time seriously. If a guest has to walk over wires or watch you run back and forth from set up to recording, it can take away from the conversation. Bringing clients into a professional recording studio also shows them that you take your podcast and career seriously.

Prominent guests mean big audiences, so audio quality is critical. If you can hear cars in the background or people shouting, it may turn off your audience no matter how big-name the guest. Quality audio will also continue to attract your dream guests.

Transitioning your podcast from a basement set-up to a professional studio shows that you believe in your content, message, brand, and growth. It often separates the hobbyist from the professionals.

2. When your following is growing

If your audience and social media fans are asking for more, give them more. At a podcast recording studio, you have the opportunity to record live segments, video, and audio, so you can deliver new and exciting content in a variety of formats.

Here at Bravery Studios, most of our podcasters record their episodes with the cameras rolling. It allows their podcast to be different and engaging by capturing expressions and behind-the-scenes moments audio alone doesn’t. Your audience is your audience because they can relate to you. The more you, the better!

If your following is growing and engaged, it also means there’s an opportunity to monetize via a membership service, like Patreon or Glow.fm. Whatever you put behind a paywall needs to be high quality to keep paying members happy and growing.

3. When you want to level up your audio experience

Bare-bones editing was great when it was just your mom and friends listening, but now you have thousands of downloads per month, and it’s time to enhance your show.

We believe in the old saying: be careful of becoming a jack of all trades and master of none. Editing takes time and is vital when it comes to creation. But if your sound levels are off, you can lose a listener before you even start talking.

There’s no need to learn new editing skills or add on another few hours of editing. Working with a professional podcast studio allows you to collaborate with editing pros to add special effects to make your audio more immersive.

After editing thousands of podcasts, studio editors know simple tricks like adding a delay for a part of your show can make a topic sound larger than life or set a tone. They also handle uploading and managing vis hosting platforms like Sounder and pushing new episodes to listener platforms. Fictional podcasts, for example, tell stories that rely on feeding the audience’s imagination to be successful.

4. When you start to feel overwhelmed

We see so many podcasters start their show as a side hustle or hobby and get overwhelmed when it starts to grow. Producing the episode, editing both audio and photos, uploading, ideating new topics and themes — it’s a lot of work. Doing it all can become exhausting and take away the fun of creating content.

For a mid-size podcaster, streamlining your time is essential. Our podcasters record with us because it allows them to focus on content creation and outsource the technical stuff. We edit, upload, make social media clips, and help with improvements along the way.

If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, ask for help from audio professionals. Having a team by your side will help to improve your brand and quality of life.

5. When you start generating revenue

As a new sound engineer, I was once told, once you get paid, you’re a professional. Think about it. If someone sponsors you, it’s because they believe in what you’re doing. Don’t take that lightly; take it as a confirmation.

When you start making money from sponsorships, ads, or memberships, it’s time to consider investing it back into your podcast. Some people go for higher quality tech or new cover art. Both are good ideas! But if you’re looking to run your podcast business more efficiently, you’d do well to outsource the things that take the longest.

After all, most podcasters get into the game to be creative, talk to interesting people, and create something beautiful. So use that fan money to keep doing what YOU really want to do (i.e., creating bomb content), and leave the boring stuff up to professionals who will make your life easier.

I often ask people, “How much does your dream cost? $50? $1000? Are you willing to invest?” If podcasting is just a hobby, that’s ok, but if it’s something you want to take seriously, then you should be investing in yourself.

6. When you want to build a team

We get it: Podcasting can be a lonely pursuit. While the online community is brimming with conversations and help, the act of sitting behind a mic and recording, editing, and promoting is a solo job.

Working alongside professionals allows you to ask questions in real-time. When working with a podcast studio, like Bravery Studios, you’re not only purchasing recording time, you’re purchasing consulting time and a built-in team who wants the best for you and your podcast.

Typically after each episode, our podcasters ask, “So what did you think?” and we are honest. We’re not just hitting record and saying good luck. There’s a reason you came down and wanted to record today, a purpose, and I’m pretty sure it’s not to be humored.

Consultation helps set a direction, get ideas out, review analytics, and point you toward a goal. Sometimes you may have a topic, but you’re not sure the right way to word it. Having a team with you helps strategize. It keeps you motivated each week to remain focused and consistent.

7. When you want to become part of a community

Podcast studios work with lots of different podcasters and audio creators. We’ve always enjoyed working with creative people. Being part of a community means something. You’re not alone. You’re with people who care about what they’re doing and what you’re doing.

Another benefit of working in a studio is cross-promotion. Crossover episodes are epic. It benefits both podcasters because it cross-pollinates listeners. We love introducing like-minded podcasters to each other.

As we begin to open back up, we look forward to hosting networking events, Q&A’s, or even gaming events. It’s not just business with us at Bravery Studios. It’s about growing the family!

How to Create Podcast Cover Art According to a Graphic Designer

It’s true. Sometimes we click on a new podcast because the cover art catches our eye. When there are thousands of new shows to choose from, it’s not a bad strategy.

Color, font, graphics — it can all be so exciting for a new listener on the hunt for their next favorite show. Does she pick a bold, bright cover? Dark and mysterious? What vibe is the art giving off? What mood is she in?

For new podcasters, though, we’ve heard graphic design can feel overwhelming. What font? What colors? What size?! So we called in an expert— Sounder’s graphic designer, Janko Pocuca. He creates the cover and episode art for Sounder’s podcast, The Big Exit as well as allllll the graphics that represent our brand. We love him and his creativity very much!

How to Create Podcast Cover Art

Truth is, your cover art is the beginning of your visual brand. It’s what helps a podcast stand out from the crowd and defines your place in the market (think Apple Podcasts and Spotify). It’s what inspires perusing listeners like us to tune in! And we’re here to infuse a little more fun into the creative process. Read on for seven helpful tips to create eye-catching cover art.

1. Define The Essence Of Your Podcast

Okay, so you’ve carved out some time to create cover art for your new podcast. You have a hot cup of tea and the playlist of your dreams singing in the background. Not sure where to begin? No problem. There are a few ways to go about distilling visual representation from your audio creation.

Find keywords

“For initial inspiration, focus on keywords in your title that best describe a particular subject,” says Janko. In other words, use the name of your podcast to define what concepts are at the heart of your show. This way, new listeners will immediately understand what your show is about.

Have a little brainstorm session. Is your podcast titled If Wicks Could Talk, or The Lost Heart of Candle Making, or Fire in The Jar? Keywords might be wax, scent, aromatherapy, natural. Janko explains, “After defining the main elements from the title, it’s much easier to create the whole image.”

Browse your niche’s art

Another handy tactic: check out what others in your niche are doing. Go to your podcast category on large listener platforms and browse the cover art. After all, this is where your podcast will live and spark new listeners. What’s appealing? Is there a dominant color or style? What’s working? Take note of what can be improved and use that to define your differences.

Scroll for inspiration

Janko also recommends browsing free image websites like Graphic BurgerIcon Finder, and Freepik for inspiration. Collect a few graphics that you feel drawn to. Free images can give you a jumping-off point to start playing with color and placement.

2. Know Your Dimensions

Cover art dimensions matter because not all popular listener platforms display at the same size. Every platform, and every screen-size on every platform, has a unique size requirement. Not ideal.

Read the fine print

When building a digital archive of your cover art, it’s essential to have a collection of graphics based on each platform’s requirements. As an example, this is one collection required to host your podcast on the Apple and iTunes Store platform.

  • Apple: minimum 1400 x 1400 pixels and maximum 3000 x 3000 px
  • iTunes Store Podcast Page: 220 x 220 pixels
  • iTunes Store New and Noteworthy: 125 x 125 pixels
  • Apple Podcasts Mobile: 55 x 55 pixels

To save yourself time and headache, Janko recommends starting with the largest size, which has a lot of buffer space to trim to various sizes. Another tip: stay organized. Keep a labeled folder of cover art for each platform so you can edit and upload with ease.

Testing is Essential

Because your show’s cover art will display on every possible screen, size, app, and hot air balloon (just want to make sure you’re still with us) do your best to test each image. How? Get critical. Before uploading, ensure your design looks good large and small, on desktop and mobile. Ask friends to view it on their phones. Send it via email. Mail a photo to great Aunt May.

3. Use Contrasting Colors

Color is undeniably vital for your podcast cover art. It shows the personality, mood, even the energy level of your podcast with a single glance. There are many attractive potential color choices, “as long as you have good color contrast,” says Janko.

Think back to high school art class. Remember the color wheel? “Play around with light and dark colors and see which colors go well together,” advises Janko. “Mixing only bright or dark ones should be avoided.” Contrasting makes more powerful imagery and simplifies your color choices.

Take our The Big Exit cover art for example. Janko chose a light background to contrast the bright pops of color from his graphic. And the colors found in the graphic are used to make all other marketing materials (like newsletters, social media posts, and our website).

4. Choose A Font With Personality

A little bit goes a long way in a small space. Stick to one or two fonts for all the text content of your podcast cover art. You will likely want to print your name, production company, and possibly a subtitle or teaser depending on how you arrange design elements. In some cases, the title lends itself to a separate artistic font.

Choose a font or two based on your podcast’s personality and the mood of your branding. You might choose a more playful font for a comedy show or a serious font for politics. Your font style is another simple indicator of what listeners can expect from the show.

5. Keep It Simple

It can be tempting to fill your podcast cover art with content. After all, you have a title, a logo or graphic, a photo, and color to play with. But Janko warns not to overdo it with elements and details. Don’t forget, most of the time, your cover art will be seen as a thumbnail, not a full-size rendering. “Finding a balanced composition can help to create an eye-catching cover image at any size.” It’s best to keep your design simple, clean, and well-spaced.

6. Scale Your Cover Art Into Marketing Material

Finally, you can put all of your hard design work to work! Make a simple text document that lists out all the colors, fonts, graphics, and rules of your cover art. Vavoom! You have yourself a brand style-guide. A style-guide is your touchpoint for all brand visuals, like newsletter headers, social media graphics, even swag for your listeners.

The more unified your imagery, the more recognizable your podcast will become across multiple broadcasting platforms. When you create your cover art, you are creating the template for your podcast’s brand. So take your time, think it through, and HAVE FUN.

How Fast is The Podcast Market Growing?

Video Transcript:

How Fast is The Podcast Market Growing?

We’re going to try something new, and we are calling this Whiteboard Wednesdays. And every Wednesday, we want to add educational content within the podcast industry to really help our community learn more about podcasting, podcasting tips, and so forth. So for our first Whiteboard Wednesday, we want to talk answer the questions, how fast is the podcast market Growing. We’re going to break this up into three separate whiteboards. But the first question that we have to ask ourselves is,

How many new podcasts are being added each year to the ecosystem?

We used Listen Notes data to calculate all of this, they do a great job. They say today, as of October 2020, there’s 1.7 million podcasts worldwide, and that’s already up from September of roughly six and a half percent from the previous month. So if you look at how many new podcasts have been added each year, let’s go ahead and look at that data.

So in 2015, there was approximately 58,000 new podcasts that were added in the entire year of 2015. If you look at 2016, that then jumped up to roughly 93,000 new podcasts being added. In 2017, again, that jumped to 125,000 new podcasts. Let’s look at 2018, jumped up to 193,000, 2019 was 309,000. Alright, and then so far in 2020, through October, there’s already 715,000 new podcasts being added in 2020.

If you look at the compounded annual growth rate since ’15, that’s 131% growth. So for 2015, there was 58,000 new podcasts being added every single year and that has jumped to so far in 2020, to 715,000 new podcasts, and this is accelerating rapidly.

If we ask another question,

What is the podcast revenue by year?

So we could say, well, that’s great. We’re adding new podcasts every single month and every single year, but how is that translating to podcast revenue when serving ads, host read ads, dynamically inserted ads, or programmatic ads into this audio content?

Let’s go ahead and look at the data for the same time period, 2015 through 2020. And in 2015, there was roughly $105 million in podcast revenue, according to Statista, and IAB. In 2016 that jumped up to $165 million. In ’17 it started to accelerate a little bit more, and it was $313 million. In 2018 that jumped up to $479 million. And then in 2019, that again jumped up to roughly $708 million in total revenue for podcasts. And in 2020, it’s anticipated to be greater than $1 billion in annual revenue coming from ad monetization within audio.

If we look at the compounded annual growth rate from 2015 to 2020, as it relates to revenue, that was a CAGR of 46% compounded annual growth rate. So clearly the amount of new podcasts that are being added is accelerating faster, but we’re also seeing a very healthy increase in the amount of revenue that podcasts, in general, can actually make. And that’s just because a lot more brands are getting into the space, we’re seeing new technological advances as it relates to audio technology and even with what Sounder is doing – working to democratize audio advertising, where regardless of size, if you have 10 downloads or 10 million downloads a month, you should have the tools to reach advertisers and monetize your audio content.

And then finally, let’s ask the question, well, that’s great, we have lots of podcasts, it’s generating revenue, but –

How many monthly podcast listeners are there?

And specifically in the US, because right now, it’s the largest percent of population over the age of 12. What’s the percentage of every single year? Well, if we look at that, we can see that in 2015, it was roughly 17% of the US population over the age of 12 who listened to podcasts on a monthly basis.

That jumped up to 21% in 2016. That then jumped up to 24%, and then 26%, and then 32%.

And now in 2020, so far, it’s roughly 37%. 37% of the US population over the age of 12 listens to a podcast on a monthly basis. And if you factor that in, that’s roughly 104 million Americans within the US listening to a podcast on a monthly basis.

Now, we could actually break this up into the European Union and so forth. In fact, outside of the US, podcasting is actually accelerating faster in some countries, than even the US. But the ability to reach 37% of the US population, and that’s growing every single year, is pretty extraordinary.

Hopefully, this first How Fast is The Podcast Market Growing Whiteboard Wednesday was useful. Please give us your feedback in the blog comments below. We’ll see you next week.

Seven Undeniable Reasons Why You Need a Website for Your Podcast

Think of a website for your podcast like a Welcome Home sign for new fans and potential collaborators. It shows your style, your voice, and your story. It provides your community with a hub of free content and a direct line of communication. It gives you the ability to present your podcast to the world exactly how you’d like fans to receive it. What may seem like an extra step in setting up your show is actually something that can make or break your growth.

Social media is a great way to promote your show, but as a creative, you need the space to build something that YOU own. We can’t always be boxed in!

Since social media changes on a dime, a website allows you to establish your brand, build authority, and grow over time. Just imagine if you funneled all of your fans to your MySpace page back in 2005! Owning your brand is one way a website will help you grow an engaged listenership. Here are six more reasons why creating a website for your podcast can increase listenership.

1. Tell your origin story to attract like-minded fans

An “About” section goes a long way with fans. It’s a story they don’t fully get from your show page on Spotify or social media accounts. A juicy, on-brand origin story bridges the gap between host, show, and listener. It’s a chance to show your credibility on a topic in a friendly, non-threatening way.

Did you work in retail for eight years and now teach people how to find the best seasonal deals? Have you played Yahtzee for the last decade with your family on summer nights and started a show about board game strategy? Give them the details and soundbites so they can feel part of your show and talk about it with friends.

A juicy, on-brand origin story bridges the gap between host, show, and listener.

When preparing an “About” page, put yourself in the listeners’ shoes. They may be wondering: Who are these hosts? What made them want to start this show? What are they passionate about? Can I see myself being friends with them? What are their quarks? Opinions? Values? It’s almost like getting coffee with a new friend. All of this information will help build a listener-base that is in alignment with you and your show—meaning life-long stans.

2. Build a newsletter list to talk directly with fans

As much as we love social media, the tides (cough cough, algorithms) are always turning. Building a marketing strategy solely on social media is a little like building your house on a tiny island. You never know when the weather is going to wipe you out. Enter: email marketing.

Now, let’s take a step back before you scroll your way out of this “marketing talk.” You’re not about to turn into some used-card salesperson by collecting your fan’s emails. Instead, you’re securing a line of communication if they decide to take a break from social media or simply don’t have it. They’ll love seeing a regular email in their inbox from their favorite host because it brings a level of closeness. Don’t forget, they’re listening to you for hours throughout their week. Having another point of contact with you makes your relationship more dynamic.

Don’t forget, they’re listening to you for hours throughout their week. Having another point of contact makes your relationship more dynamic.

How can you collect emails? When listeners visit your website, encourage them to sign up for your mailing list by offering an unreleased episode or behind-the-scenes audio. They get more free content from a host they love, and you get their email to send them even MORE free content straight to their inbox. Plus, an email marketing list will allow you to immediately notify subscribers when a new episode, blog, update, or rambling is released—all things they genuinely want more of.

Due to email marketing regulations, you’ll want to ensure that your listeners are actively signing up and know what to expect. If you’re operating in Europe, you’ll want to make sure you’re up to speed on GDPR regulations, but the rules are mostly just disclosure-related.

3. Embed each episode to maximize your content

Sure, lots of people listen to podcasts via Apple Podcasts or Spotify, but embedding your show on your website has quite a few advantages. For starters, it allows you to produce more content. Instead of just pushing your new episode out to listener platforms, embed it in a blog post and include a short introduction or show notes. This helps listeners choose what to listen to AND helps you rank higher in SEO. (Google can’t crawl audio just yet. More on this below.)

If people find your podcast through a tweet, it’s awkward for them to keep that twitter window open just to listen to it. And if they’re on mobile, forget it. Embedding your podcast on your website allows listeners to easily stream it via an efficient plugin that doesn’t require keeping an unrelated page open. It also cuts down the noise for listeners. Plus, by directing fans to listen on your website, you don’t have to worry about sending them to a platform with competing podcasts.

With Sounder, your podcast can be easily embedded in your website so fans can listen while browsing your archives. All you need to do is click “Share” from the episode page and then “Copy the Embeddable Code.” The plugin will easily fit into your page’s HTML, and many website building services will integrate it automatically.

4. Host transcriptions and blogs to boost visibility

If you have a podcast, you have an archive of content, much like a library, thanks to something called a transcript. This word-for-word archive of each episode can quickly be turned into text content, like blogs, that Google can crawl.

Whether your podcast focuses on money management or orcs and goblins, you want it to come up in search results when people look for those terms. But, as we mentioned earlier, search engines are only starting to figure out how to crawl audio filesText content created from each episode will factor heavily into SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, increasing your page rank and the visibility of your show.

Search engines sort their results based on how common and relevant phrases are, the structure of the post (if it’s broken down into easy-to-read headings), and if it provides a full answer to the search query. More and more podcasters are opting for transcription to widen their listener base, and it’s easier than ever to get started.

Another fun fact: Google dislikes showing social media in its results. Try searching for a keyword! Tweets and Instagram posts are often nowhere to be found. That’s because long-form content provides a more complete answer to a searcher’s question. Websites are weighted much more highly than tweets or posts when it comes to SEO.

5. Look professional to land potential advertisers and guests

Anyone who listens to a popular podcast is aware of popular advertisements. Mattresses, stamps, undergarments — the list goes on. If you’ve grown enough to begin conversations with advertisers (rock on!), you’ll need a website. First, it looks professional. It gives off the impression that you’re in this for the long haul and don’t half-ass projects. Hosting a website with your contact information, about section, and episode archive will provide an opportunity for advertisers to see what you’re about.

It gives off the impression that you’re in this for the long haul and don’t half-ass projects.

When advertisers look for potential podcast spots, they’re trying to make a connection with a unique segment of the listening population. If you make listener stats available on your website and have data (revenue, listeners, spec sheets, etc.) ready for potential advertisers, you’ll be way ahead of the curve. You don’t have to publish everything publicly on your site, but ensure that advertisers know it’s available upon request. The same goes for potential guests and collaborators.

6. Keep a running list of tour dates, live events, and merchandise

Not everyone’s podcasting goal is to be famous, and that’s a-okay! But for some, it’s a big part of what fuels their late-night editing sessions. Whether it’s intentional or not, when your show starts picking up steam, fans are going to want to interact with you via live shows or events. According to data from Vivid Seats, the live podcast industry will be worth over $55 million in 2020.

That means stepping out from your recording studio (closet?) and interacting with fans. Introverts, put down the brown paper bag. Live events can be small can intimate or large and loud, depending on your audience, niche, and marketing. Let your fans know all the details via your website, where you can also pre-sell tickets.

Another fun website perk? Merchandise. Putting your loved-logo on totes, hats, and shirts is an easy way to give fans access to your brand, passively promote your show, and recoup some of your podcast investment. The best option is to create a merch link on your homepage.

Building a website is pretty drag-and-drop these days, thanks to sites like Wix and Squarespace. If you’re on a tight budget, try Weebly or WordPress.com, which are totally free. Once everything is up and running, maintenance is easy. Your show is a platform for others to connect with each other and with you. Building out a website early on will help you grow that community-base. Even if it’s bare-bones, kind of like a starter home, you can always improve the quality later.

How to Grow Your Podcast Audience With Insightful Analytics

Grow Your Podcast Audience

All podcast hosting platforms offer analytics measuring how listeners interact with your podcast. You can see what episodes get the most listens and what time of day listeners tune in.

The challenge becomes finding insightful data that can help you grow your podcast audience. Here at Sounder, we noticed that most audio creators are confused about how to put their podcast analytics into action to continually grow their streams.

To help explain, I analyzed the metrics of my new podcast, The Big Exit, using Sounder’s analytics dashboard and tracked the changes I made to create a simple growth strategy. With just a few adjustments, my audience grew by 48% in one month! Crazy, right?

Like most podcasts, The Big Exit is a passion project, which grew from my fascination with entrepreneurship and startups. On the show, I discuss startup acquisitions with the founders who lived it. From Brett Jurgens, founder of Notion, to Lori Torres of Parcel Pending, I interview startup founders who have built their businesses from an idea and sold for many millions of dollars.

I learned a lot from this exercise and recorded my thinking, changes, and analytics to show you how you can get similar results with very little effort. It’s all about podcasting smarter, not harder. Here’s exactly how I turned my podcast analytics into a growth strategy that is now on pace to double my streams month over month.

Keyword Terminology

Before we dig in, let’s go over some general audio analytics terminology.

Podcast Streams

A stream is counted when any one of your episodes is played within a 45-minute period. At the podcast-level, streams are counted across all of your episodes. At the episode-level, streams are counted for a specific episode. Streams give you an understanding of how popular your podcast (or a specific episode) is becoming.

Podcast Listeners

A listener is counted when a unique person listens to any of your episodes within 24 hours. We’re always aiming to grow this number! Ideally, your streams and listeners grow together — that means your podcast is reaching a larger audience and is making an impact.

Overall Podcast Performance

This may be called something different on each hosting platform, but it’s the performance of your podcast over the past week, month, or another increment of time. Stepping back from episode-level performance helps you see what days of the week listeners are tuning in to your podcast and more.

Top Episodes

On Sounder’s analytics dashboard, we provide a list of your top-performing episodes to help you understand what your audience enjoys.

Okay, let’s dig into my growth strategy over this past month.

1. Grow Podcast Audience With Demographics

Audience demographics helps you understand where in the world your audience is streaming and downloading your episodes so you can better target your content.

Insight: Checking my analytics for the last seven days, I noticed my listens were primarily coming from the US, but I was surprised to see the second highest listener demographic was Canada.

Grow podcast audience strategy: Looks like Canadians are listening. I used this information to begin researching entrepreneurs in Canada who would be great guests. It helped me build out my guest pipe-line for the rest of the year.

2. Keywords

Something incredibly cool about Sounder’s analytics is keywords. Using our Sounder Player and podcast web pages, listeners can search your podcast catalog for a word or phrase and find its exact location within your episodes. Our analytics dashboard gives you a list of the top keywords searched.

Insight: Checking my keywords, I noticed listeners were searching for “business” which is great engagement. I also saw listeners searching for the keyword “bootstrapping.” (In business, bootstrapping is when someone builds a company with very little resources, usually only with their personal savings — no venture capital)

Grow podcast audience strategy: I needed to find a guest to speak to who bootstrapped and sold their business for big bucks. And that’s exactly what I did. I booked Josh Dorkin, founder of Bigger Pockets—a one-stop-shop for real estate investing, to talk about starting out of his living room with only $12 bucks. Give it a listen.

powered by Sounder

3. Time-Of-Day Distribution

There’s a lot of data out there that suggests the best time of day to publish a new episode, but there’s nothing like understanding your specific audience’s listening habits. A time-of-day distribution chart can inform your new episode launch strategy.

Insight: Looking at these analytics, I see that people are primarily starting to listen in the morning and then consistently listen throughout the day.

Grow podcast audience strategy: What does this mean for me? Most people listen at the beginning of their workday. And since they are listening, they are likely an entrepreneur or thinking about starting a business. The Big Exit is all about inspiring entrepreneurs, so in addition to posting new episodes at these precise times in the morning, I also pull out inspiring quotes from my guests and add them to the beginning of each episode.

4. Publishing Cadence

It’s always a good idea to back up from episode-specific analytics and look at a month or three of your overall podcast performance to get a big picture of what’s working well.

Insight: Before this case study, I published bi-weekly but looking at the analytics, I noticed I was losing momentum in the off-weeks and overall audience growth.

Grow podcast audience strategy: I hunkered down and changed to a weekly publishing cadence. Weekly episodes helped tremendously in my stream growth, which you can see above (I quickly made this with Excel using my tracked metrics). Now my current listeners know exactly when I’m publishing, and new listeners have more chances to find The Big Exit.

5. Devices, Applications, and Browsers

Depending on the data, understanding what devices, apps, and browsers your listeners are using to stream or download your episodes can inform your podcast content. Some questions to ask yourself: how does this information impact the length of my episodes? How does it impact the content itself?

Insight: This month, I focused on devices. In the last 7 days, I noticed that 70% of my listeners were tuning in via their mobile phone, 27% on their PC, and 3% on their tablet and smart watch.

Grow podcast audience strategy: As we are starting to see more and more people drive back to work, the amount of mobile listens (as a percentage) has been increasing compared to COVID lock-down where these numbers were reversed coming more from the PC than Mobile. Looks to me like my audience is listening while driving, multitasking, or doing work on their mobile phone and computer. Going forward, I might experiment with how I edit my podcast. For example, it could be useful to add a bell or ding to alert listeners to relevant tips and information.

6. Social Media Promotion

While social media is not measured on our analytics dashboard, it is still part of your podcast’s analytics. And over time, you will be able to tell if your efforts are paying off by tracking where your referrals are coming from.

Insight: It takes me about 2–3 hours to record and edit an episode. Turning that hard work into social quick moments is crucial for growth (and sanity).

Grow podcast audience strategyI went from posting once per episode to three times, using Soundbites and the Sounder Player. Each subsequent post generated unique listens. Since my guests have large followings, I asked them to share to their network and made it easy by giving them a link to the full episode along with two specific quotes via a Soundbite URL with written social media snippets.

7. Referrals

Where are people finding my podcast? How can I target my effort there? Unique to Sounder’s analytics, a referral is counted any time a stream is played on a podcast platform or the Sounder Player. So if I blast out my new episode via the Sounder Player to all social networks, friends, and blogs, Sounder records what platform gets the most interactions.

Insight: Publishing weekly is no joke, so I really wanted to track where my audience was coming from to better target my marketing efforts.

Grow podcast audience strategy: I did a few things to boost the visibility of my Sounder Player and understand where my audience is coming from.

First, I put together a simple WordPress website for The Big Exit. (More on why you need a website for your podcast here.) Then I linked my Sounder player to my website so that no matter where people found my show, it brings them back to my website, which helps boost my brand visibility.

I also turned each episode into a blog. What’s great about the Sounder Platform is that it also helps generate a transcript of each episode. I began editing my transcript and turning them into blog posts. On the top of each blog post, I embedded the Sounder Player.

Bonus: Leveraging Transcriptions

Once you have your transcription generated from Sounder or another service, you can leverage these transcriptions in a variety of ways to increase traffic and listens to your podcast and web pages. Below are a few steps you can take to get the most out of your podcast transcriptions. You can view an example of what the transcripts look like on a blog post here.

Time needed: 30 minutes.

How to Use Transcriptions for Your Podcast

  1. Leverage Sounder’s Free Transcription Service

    Every episode on Sounder is automatically transcribed. You can use our free transcription service or upgrade to our plus plan to get even better quality transcriptions.

  2. Export Transcription into a Word Doc

    If using Sounder or another service, you can copy and paste the automated transcription and add it into a new word document.

  3. Break out the Transcription into Speakers and Update Transcription

    No automated transcription service is 100% accurate. To save on time, I had someone from Fivrr help fix the errors and break out the speakers. They are able to do 30 minutes of audio for about $15. You can also do it for free if you have the time.

  4. Add Transcription to Each Episode’s Blog Post

    By adding these transcriptions to your episode pages on your website, search engines will index this quality content which will help with organic Audio SEO.

  5. Update Episode Description with Best Episode Moments

    Most podcast apps like Apple Podcasts allows up to 4,000 characters for the episode description. However, the median amount of characters podcast creators write is 163. This means there is much more real estate to add additional content to help with rankings when people search on these apps. You can use portions of your transcription to add to your existing episode descriptions.

  6. Use Episode Moments to Create Catchy Social Media Posts

    With Sounder, you are able to link to specific parts of your episodes. Once you know the precise episode moments you would like to share, you can find that exact location within your Sounder Player and share that Soundbite Snippet on social media. Having these transcriptions, will help you find the best marketing moments to share to your network.

Final thoughts

Doing this case study helped me understand a few things.

  1. Podcasting takes time, so working smart is the only way to grow.
  2. Episodes are not a one-and-done deal. If you produce great content, they keep growing well after the week you publish them. Once you have great content, it keeps growing. You can have on-going interaction for maybe ever.
  3. There are many ways to interpret analytics, and it’s part of the creative process of podcasting.
  4. A good, clean analytics dashboard is key to taking control of purposeful marketing growth. If you haven’t already, check out Sounder

How To Get The Most Growth Out Of The Sounder Discovery Suite

In this frequently updated article, we walk you through how to use the Sounder Discovery Suite to grow your podcast’s audience. For each tool, we explain what it is, how it works, and creative ways to use it. Read on for best practices!

Hey there, Sounder Creator! Think of this article as an instruction manual for the Sounder Discovery Suite, only way more fun and less confusing than an IKEA bed frame manual. Here you can dig into each specific feature: how it works and how to use it.

We’re also sharing creative ideas and best-practices to put your podcast marketing strategy into hyperdrive. It’s one thing to have tricked-out tools, and it’s another to learn how to use them to maximize your growth.

For starters, using Sounder is free until you hit 20k streams per month. We take on the early costs so you can put your budget towards a great mic and headphones. Let’s dig in!

1. Audio SEO

What is it? Audio SEO is a series of optimization practices that make your content easier for search engines to crawl and index. By displaying your podcast’s transcription on your episode webpages, it helps search engines crawl and index your podcast. So when someone searches “cucumbers” your show, about cooking, will rank. We know SEO can be a little intimidating, so we’ve done all the work for you. Sounder also optimizes your podcast descriptions, title, category, keywords, and show notes. Through SEO best practices, we make sure your podcast gets the eyes and ears it deserves.

2. Sounder Player

What is it? If you listen to a show outside of any popular listener platform, you’re likely interacting with an embedded audio player. It’s a tool that allows anyone to listen to a show outside of Spotify or Apple Podcasts, just like watching YouTube videos outside of YouTube.com.

While embedded video players have advanced in technology and functionality, we couldn’t help but notice most audio players were either dated or cost extra to add to a website (widgets and such). So we built the one we wanted to see in the market, and offer it for free.

How it works: Our Sounder Player can be embedded on a website, shared on social media, or used via your Sounder episode webpages. It works just as well on mobile and desktop.

First, let’s go through the icons and functionality. At the top, you see a search bar. This is for In-Stream Audio Search, which allows listeners to search for keywords or topics across all of your content. We’ll dig into this function more below.

To the right of the search bar, is a “CC” icon. This expands the player window to show closed captioning subtitles while your episode is playing, creating an inclusive experience for all audiences. Clicking CC again collapses the player to its compact format.

To the right of the CC icon is a share arrow, which allows you or your audience to share the full episode or a short clip called a Soundbite. We’ll dig into Soundbite Audio Share below.

To the right of the share arrow is a burger menu, which opens your complete podcast library. This is a great way to keep your listeners engaged with your content.

Finally, to the right of the burger menu, is a radio wave icon where your audience can find other platforms where they can stream your podcast.

We’ve recently added a new function to our player: web linking. Before, if a listener clicked on your player it would bring them back to your Sounder webpage. Now, you can have it redirect anywhere, like to your website or social media pages.

As you can see, there are LOTS of features stacked in this small but mighty player. Here are a few ideas on how to use it.

Creative ideas:

  1. For those of you who have a website dedicated to your podcast, you’ll want to embed this player on your homepage. Why? Instead of sending your audience to a large listener platform where they can get distracted with other content, allow your audience to listen to an episode while continuing to engage with your story, merch, and other content.
  2. Don’t have a website, yet? No problem. Sounder provides all creators with a beautiful podcast website, which includes the Sounder Player and all it’s glory.
  3. Embedded players also help you to produce more content. Consider embedding each episode into a blog post and including a short introduction, overview, or detailed show notes. Here’s an example! This helps your podcast rank higher in SEO and gives listeners a different way to interact with your content.

3. In-Stream Audio Search

What is it? One of the main perks of our Sounder Player is its ability to search for topics and keywords within episodes. We call this In-Stream Audio Search. It’s like Google for your audio content. You can type a keyword or topic into the search bar and receive a list of episodes (and timestamps within those episodes!) where that keyword appears.

How it works: Since each of your episodes are automatically transcribed (for free!), In-Stream Audio Search identifies the moments in your podcast library where those keywords are mentioned and queues them up for playback. This feature is beneficial for both audio creators and their audience.

New listeners can use the search bar in the Sounder Player to taste your show or gain insight into a topic you discuss. Stans can find their favorite podcast moments faster than ever.

Creative ideas:

  1. Repurpose content in no time. Take Pride month, for example. You can search your podcast library for the word “pride” and put together a newsletter of all the episodes that discuss pride for your listeners.
  2. Make a “best of” episode. Easily find clips and quotes from your library to put together a “best” or “funniest” moments episode to round out your season!
  3. Make your show notes more efficient by searching within your latest episode for important time stamps.
  4. Suggest tangential episodes. Many podcasters point to similar episodes in their show notes or at the end of each episode to keep listeners in their loop. But sifting through dozens (or hundreds) of episodes can take hours. Using In-Stream Audio Search, creators can easily find tangential episodes to suggest.

4. Episode Soundbites

What is it? The Sounder Player allows listeners and creators to share Soundbites, or audio snippets of an episode. Now, instead of sharing a whole episode on Twitter, you can post, say, the best 60 seconds. With Soundbites, listeners get the ability to share their favorite podcast moments with their network.

How it works: Click the share arrow at the top right of the Sounder Player and select Soundbite Audio Share. This will take you to a screen (like above) where you can listen to an episode and slide the “start” and “end” bars to create a specific Soundbite. Also helpful, closed captioning is running at the bottom of the player, so you can get the perfect sentence or quote.

Creative ideas:

  1. Tease your latest episode on social media. Create and share the best audio moments of a new episode to drum up excitement.
  2. Ride a trending wave. If there’s a trending topic in the news, search your library and share the best Soundbite. This helps you stay relevant and repurpose evergreen content.
  3. Add audio to your blogs. Make your blog content interactive by adding Soundbites of your most important/compelling points.
  4. Create promotional material. Everyone loves content. If you’re hosting a guest, send them Soundbites of their episode to use on their own pages, which will bring audiences back to your podcast.
  5. Guest promotion reels. You know how radio stations get stars to say “you’re listening to 101.7 Sounder.FM” or whatever? Do the same thing with your podcast guests! Create a reel of quick intros to drum up credibility and excitement on social media.
  6. Send an audio newsletter. Keep your “new episode” newsletters exciting but adding Soundbites to tease the episode.

5. Episode Transcription

What is it? With Sounder, you get a free text transcript of each episode. That’s right, no more transcribing by hand on .5x speed (or missing this very important SEO/content opportunity).

How it works: After you publish an episode, simply download your transcription and start promoting! With our free speech-to-text recognition, it’s never been easier to create marketing content.

Creative ideas:

  1. Blog Your Podcast. Turning podcasts into blogs (and sometimes vice versa) is a great way to cross-promote your content. Blogs raise your SEO presence, increases your visibility online, and are a great resource for fans.
  2. Create compelling show notes. Show notes summarize new episodes to entice curious new listeners to dive in. With information overload, clear show notes make it easy to get a sense of your voice and content. But you don’t have to spend extra time writing them from scratch. With the help of your transcript, pull the juicy quotes (with timestamps), and write a synopsis of each episode.
  3. Write catchy social media posts. Your transcript will ensure that your pull-quotes are perfect and save you hours of listening.
  4. Make video content. Do you live-stream your episode? Or create videos of them? Use your transcript to add subtitles to any podcasting videos to create an inclusive experience.
  5. Pitch media outlets. If you’re in the market for advertisers, use transcripts to create compelling, on-brand marketing material that makes you look like a pro.
  6. Archive. Finally, transcripts make wonderful archives. If you want a static don’t-have-to-replay-it archive of all your podcast episodes easily collated, sorted, and dynamically searchable, then an archive of transcripts is the way to go. This way, your hard work can be recycled into new content time and time again.

6. Data-Driven Insights

What is it? Sounder’s Analytics help you understand your audience so you can create better content. We’re excited to offer powerful data and metrics you can’t receive anywhere else (more on that in a moment). At Sounder, we are laser-focused on helping your podcast get discovered and be heard. There’s no better way to help you do it than learning intelligently — improving your content and marketing strategy in real-time to attract more listeners.

How it works: Stop guessing what your audience cares about. With Sounder, you have access to things you‘re used to, like streams, listens, location. But we also give you access to even more, including time-of-day distribution, keyword searches, referrals and devices so you can podcast smarter. These metrics help you improve your podcast episode after episode. Heres how to use them!

Creative ideas:

  1. Streams give you an understanding of how popular your podcast (or a specific episode) is becoming. By tracking streams, you can assess what marketing efforts are the most effective, which episodes have the most success, and understand the engagement your show is having over time.
  2. Your Time Of Day chart can inform your new episode launch strategy. If, for instance, you see that the majority of your streams are being started before 11 am, it may make sense for you to release new episodes in the morning rather than at night. This can boost engagement as your listeners will be able to listen to new episodes immediately after they are released.
  3. See who’s listening. You may think you only have local listeners (hi, mom!), but with analytics you can see who is really tuning in. Looks like you have an international audience? Consider researching a topic that is especially relevant to listeners in those countries.
  4. Tap into new markets. Understanding the location of your audience informs your content and marketing strategy. As you talk about different topics on your podcast, depending on where listeners are located, they may or may not have a strong understanding of what you are talking about. The more you know about your user, the more targeted you can make your podcast. Knowing who is listening and where they reside can inform your next guest interview! Find a popular guest in the areas where people are already engaging with your content.
  5. Tailor to devices. Are most of your listens coming from mobile devices? Desktop? Consider playing around with the length of your show, or connect with your audience by adding relatable bits about what they’re doing while listening.
  6. Understand what your listeners are searching for. These queries are snippets into your listeners’ minds while they listen to an episode. The results here can be a powerful tool to help improve your content strategy. If you see people are searching for a specific topic, then perhaps you can address those topics in a future episode. Keywords allow you to have a 2-way conversation with your listeners. Embedding and sharing your Sounder Player as often as possible can help drive more engagement for your show — allowing you to surface more relevant insights as to what your audience cares about. When you share other audio players, you miss out on insights from those listeners.

How To Choose The Best Embedded Audio Player For Your Podcast

Pop on any podcast community board, and you’ll see questions like, “how do I get more listeners” and “what’s the best way to promote my podcast?” Whether you’re a hobby podcaster or looking to expand your company’s brand, audience growth is likely high on your podcasting wish-list. But time and money are not. Enter: the embedded audio player.

Advanced audio players make it easy for listeners to subscribe, browse your library, and share audio clips. It’s basically a free ticket into the world of your podcast, helping convert new listeners to big fans. Embedded audio players also allows you to showcase your show on a website and create more content from each episode. It‘s a vital tool in your audience-building toolkit.

In this article, we’re going to dig into exactly why you need an intuitive audio player, what to look for when searching, and how to use one to grow your podcast audience. We’ll also look at the difference between native embedded players provided by your host and plug-ins. Soon you’ll have the perfect audio player for your podcast!

First up: Embedded Audio Players 101

What is an embedded audio player?

An embedded audio player is a tool that allows anyone to listen, share, and subscribe to your show outside of major listener apps (like Spotify or Apple). For instance, when you watch a YouTube video anywhere other than youtube.com, you’re watching through an embedded video player. So, if you listen to any podcast outside popular listener platforms, you’re interacting with an embedded audio player.

What does an embedded audio player do?

Embedded audio players, well, play audio. And the good ones convert curious listeners into fans. They give you the freedom to showcase your podcast on a website or social media instead of hyperlinking and redirecting listeners to a major listener platform where they might get distracted.

For listeners, embedded players make it easy to listen to shows without signing into Spotify or Apple. It also allows listeners to quickly subscribe to shows, share episodes on social media, and search new episodes within a creator’s library.

Next, let’s look at embedded audio player options

Native embedded podcast players

Native embedded players are provided by your host and are almost always free. This means they run the gamut when it comes to style and innovation. Here at Sounder, we put a lot of thought into building a free growth-friendly audio player for our creators. In searching, you’ll notice some older podcast hosting companies have yet to update their players to have the functionality needed for growth.

In an embedded player run-down, Colin Gray of The Podcast Host says, “Many people choose their hosting based primarily on the player. It’s definitely a factor in what you should choose. The player is probably the most visible, and often the most obviously unique aspect, of any hosting platform.” So if you’re on the hunt for a hosting platform, keep an eye out for those keeping up with their embedded players.

Native embedded players are also great because, unlike plug-ins, they can be added to any website, not just WordPress. So if you’re hosting a website with Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly, you can embed your podcast. The word “code” scares many non-tech people, but the process is as simple as copy-pasting. Good podcast hosts will walk you through step-by-step.

Plug-ins

Plug-ins, or stand-alone audio players, are not associated with a podcast hosting company. They’re typically only compatible with WordPress and often cost money. BUT they usually have more features than most native players.

How To Use An Embedded Audio Player To Grow Your Audience

We thought a lot about this when we built our Sounder Player. We packed just about every audio growth tool into one beautifully compact player (and we keep adding more!). Here are a few ways to grow your audience using an intuitive audio player.

Convert website traffic

When a listener lands on your podcast’s website, does your latest episode start playing? Is it easily accessible? Do you even offer the option to listen via your website? If not, you could be missing out on new fans.

Let’s take a look at podcast king Tim Ferris. He uses what looks like a default audio player on his site that allows listeners two options: download or listen. That’s it! (Makes us wonder how many promotion opportunities he’s missing out on without an advanced audio player!) But, take note: he does showcase his latest episode front-and-center on his website, which is essential for passively converting site visits into listeners.

Make your show “sticky”

An audio player is like a container for your show. Take the Sounder Player: it showcases your entire episode library, so listeners can keep engaging with your content. Our player even lets you and your listeners search a keyword or topic within your library of content. It’s like Google for your audio content! Both functions allow listeners to easily find the content they’re looking for.

Psst, this is our COO’s new show, The Big Exit!

Stay top-of-mind

Audio players will also provide simple subscribe functions. So whether a listener finds you on Twitter or Spotify, they can quickly subscribe and follow along on their preferred listener app.

Share episodes and Soundbites

It should be easy to share episodes and clips of your audio across social media via your embedded audio player. A share function like this is a great promotional tool to tease your latest episode on social media or share the best audio moments of a new episode.

Be inclusive

Not everyone is listening to your show. Finding a player that has closed captioning makes your show accessible to everyone.

Make 10x more content

Audio players also help you produce more content. Creators can embed each episode into a blog post and include a short introduction or overview. This helps your podcast rank higher in SEO and gives listeners a different way to interact with your content. That’t on top of all the growth functions we mentioned above.

Finally, How To Choose The Best Embedded Audio Player For Your Podcast

It should function for both listener and creator

Advanced audio players, whether native to your host or additional plug-ins, should be built with both the creator and listener in mind. The more intuitive the player, the better the user experience. The better the user experience, the higher chance they convert to fans.

It should look good

Most audio players look like a simple bar floating somewhere on a website. Sought out a player that has some flair to it! It’s what your listeners are likely to see first. You also want a player to function well on both mobile and desktop, since we see a dramatic spike in desktop listening since the pandemic started.

It should have more than the basic features

Of course, you want an embedded player that covers the basics, like play, pause, skip, speed up, and slow down. Other common functions include a download, stream, and subscribe button.

But it’s smart to go for a player that has advanced functionality. Advanced audio players may offer things like closed captioning, a back catalog of episodes, details about the episode, in-audio search functionality, and more. You want it to be simple so a listener can navigate and smart so you can promote and showcase your hard work.

Keep in mind: Advanced players really bring the audience growth. We made sure to include intuitive growth features to our Sounder Player, so you can maximize your efforts and really grow the audience you deserve. Learn more about the Sounder Player here.

Sounder Is Out Of Beta: Building For An Audio-First Future

Sounder’s co-founders, Kal Amin, Dan Daugherty, and Goran Krgović, landscape major challenges in the podcast industry and introduce their solution.

The State of Podcasting Today

At the end of 2020, we could see 20 million new podcast episodes published online. That’s a distinct episode for nearly every single resident of Florida. While podcasting may have been around since the early 2000s, episode growth in the last three years nearly tripled from six million new episodes per year to 16.5 million. Headline: Now is the time to be in podcasting.

In many ways, it still feels like the early days of an industry where audiences and creators are searching for more structure. Listeners struggle to discover new content. Audio hobbyists struggle to build their communities. What was once an art form and a hobby has transformed into a powerful, front-and-center business.

Some companies have recognized this whitespace, stepped in, and started to build and buy. Taken from a 30,000-foot view, this is a big win for podcasting. More investment creates better products and services. However, zooming in, these investments also breed competition, fragmentation, and the potential closing of what should continue to be an open audio ecosystem.

For example, Joe Rogan signed a 100–200 million dollar licensing deal with Spotify, meaning The Joe Rogan Experience will be a Spotify exclusive in 2021. Rogan’s full audio and video will no longer be on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or anywhere else but Spotify. His millions of subscribers will need to transition to Spotify (paid or free).

Rogan’s acquisition is part of a trend. Between the creation of the paywalled Luminary and reports of Apple looking to invest in original podcast content, there seems to be a movement where only the top echelon of podcasters win. Who’s championing for everyone else? Burgeoning voices need new ways to be discovered and heard.

We created Sounder to ensure publishers, creators, and platforms of all sizes can win.

We believe there’s an opportunity to invest in a thriving and open ecosystem — one that ensures listeners can access all podcasts for free and independent creators of all sizes are supported in building a robust audience and income. Audio should be for all. We know everyone has a story worth sharing.

The Discovery Bottleneck

One way to serve the growth of the open podcast ecosystem is through discovery — connecting creators and listeners. Over the past ten years, the percentage of Americans who have ever listened to a podcast grew substantially, from 22% to 51%. Plus, there are 850 million active podcasts and 30 million episodes to choose from. With so much content, it’s harder than ever to develop creator-listener bonds.

As podcast listeners ourselves, we often get stuck listening to the same few shows when we know there is so much great content out there. But navigating the vast library of content is overwhelming and time-consuming as we’re forced to use antiquated search and discovery tools that haven’t been updated since 2004. Plus, once we find an awesome new show, it’s hard to share our favorite episode moments with our network.

This is a primary challenge for creators. If listeners can’t discover and share new content, how are creators supposed to grow their audience, shaping their podcast, and making money from their content?

There is a podcast discovery problem that acts as a bottleneck for the entire ecosystem. That’s why we built Sounder.

The Sounder Solution

We started this company on a napkin, grounded with a set of core beliefs, values, and principles. Here’s our true north:

Make every creator successful by building discovery and monetization tools that support an open and thriving creator ecosystem.

Facilitating creator-listener relationships is a critical part of the growth process. Podcasting is not a zero-sum game. That’s why we’re moving Sounder out of Beta. With our feature-rich platform, creators have the power to grow audiences and build communities.

Here’s what we’re releasing today:

  • In-Stream Audio Search: Listeners can search for topics, interests, or keywords they care about in an episode (or across all of a creator’s podcast’s episodes) so they can engage with the content that matters most.
  • Soundbite Audio Share: Creators have between 5–15 minutes to hook a new listener. When creators can share their best clips, it increases the likelihood of converting a new listener.
  • Episode Transcription: With free speech-to-text recognition, creators can easily turn their episodes into blog posts, write compelling episode notes, market a podcast to new audiences, or create videos of their episodes with accurate subtitles.
  • Audio SEO: Sounder’s proprietary technology enables advanced search engine optimization through metadata, analytics, and episode transcriptions.
  • Sounder Player: A re-imagined embeddable audio player, featuring all of Sounder’s innovative discovery tools into a small and mighty package.
  • Podcast & Episode Web Pages: We make creators look like marketing experts in minutes by providing an SEO-optimized website for their podcasts.
  • Data-Driven Insights: Proprietary analytics, including groundbreaking keyword search and sharing data, help creators track and improve podcast performance.
  • Creator Management Platform: We’ve completely overhauled our podcast management platform to make it easier and more intuitive for creators to manage and distribute content.

We built these tools because it brings podcasting and audio content discovery to 2020. As creators grow their audiences, we want to be there every step of the journey — first by removing the friction caused by starting a new podcast, and later by helping to monetize their success through ad monetization opportunities. Every creator deserves to make a meaningful income from their content!

The Exciting Road Ahead

The unmistakable power of audio is that it provides a voice to those who have been voiceless. Given the remarkable social movement we’ve seen in the last few weeks, we are even more proud to provide a space for Black, LGBTQ+, and other underrepresented groups to share their voices, stories, insights, and wisdom. Everyone’s voice deserves to be heard.

An audio-first future is coming — the evidence is all around us. Screens are being replaced with Alexa and Google Home speakers. AirPods are Apple’s fastest-growing product. Soon, all brands will have a podcast, just as they have a website, blog, or social media presence. Podcasts will become our preferred entertainment medium. Listeners are already consuming 6+ hours of content per week, and that figure grows every year.

We hope you’ll join us as we continue to build products to empower the diverse podcasting community.

Keep podcasting!

Kal, Dan, & Goran

P.S. If you like what we’re doing in the podcasting space, feel free to support us by upvoting Sounder on Product Hunt!

Your Step-By-Step Guide To Overcoming Negative Podcast Reviews

Receiving a negative podcast review flat out stinks. It has the power to send even the most seasoned podcast host into a spiral of overthinking and self-doubt. Why? “Negative reviews can be particularly painful because podcasters put their heart and soul into their work for the world to see,” says Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, and Marriage Counselor who runs his own show Marriage PodcastResearch shows that around 95% of shoppers read online reviews before purchasing. For podcasters, reviews are often the gateway between a hungry listener and a new fan.

Anyone putting creative work into the world is in a similar boat. Eric Schumacher, an actor, filmmaker, and the president of Seelie Studios says, “A film I played a principal role in just released to about 60% extremely negative reviews and about 40% extremely, sublimely positive reviews.”

Fortunately, the podcasting world is a little more friendly. Some of the audio creators I reached out to said they thankfully haven’t had a ton of troll activity. One host even apologized for not having a better “asshole story” to share. Shows with relatively non-controversial topics will yield fewer trolls. But, like it or not, opinionated listeners exist. As your show grows, so will the feedback.

Learning to manage negative feedback early on will set you up for a happier podcast journey.

Learning to manage criticism early on will set you up for a happier creative journey. So, I believe a change of mindset is in order *cue Dumbledor changing the flags from Slytherin to Gryffindor.* What if I were to tell you that negative reviews aren’t all that bad? What if I were to suggest they may even have their place in becoming a better podcaster? Are you giving me the side-eye? I thought you might. That’s why we called on therapists, podcasters, and artists to put together a step-by-step guide to coping (and growing!) from negative reviews. One podcast duo even turned their worst review into their best-selling t-shirt.

Step 1: Feel the feelings

This is not one of those articles advising you, in a very cool and calm way, to wave off your haters. In fact, Nicole Arzt, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, serving on the advisory board for Family Enthusiast, suggests the exact opposite. “We’re often told the trite, ‘don’t let the haters get to you’ as if it’s so easy to turn our feelings on and off,” she says, totally hitting the nail on the head. “Allow yourself to feel the rage or sadness or insecurity or shame. Just be with it for a few moments. You’re a human being, and you are entitled to have reactions,” she adds.

Hi, yes, you are a HUMAN with FEELINGS, which are VALID. So throw a tantrum around your living room or curl up in a ball. Let your reactions have a safe space to rise and release. Working out is another easy option. Mentally, remember your podcast is here to serve a niche audience, not infinity and beyond. “While you can try your best to avoid receiving negative reviews, they are a part of life; you can’t please everyone,” Dr. Patricia Celan, a Psychiatry resident at Dalhousie University in Canada reminds us.

Step 2: Talk it out

Shelly Johnson, co-host of the Latter-Day Lesbian podcast, is a divorced mother of seven dealing with leaving the Mormon church and learning about her sexuality for the first time. Her co-host Mary Rutt is helping her produce an honest, funny, and hopeful show. Together they cover a lot of brave topics that have harbored some not-so-nice commentary. Before spinning their worst review, a snarky low-blow, into a success story, they talked it out.

“Initially, we felt a bit irritated,” explains Rutt. “But we also found it to be ridiculous and hilarious. We worked through it by talking about the review on our podcast (we talk about all of the bad ones because we think it’s funny [and it takes the sting out of them]).” Take a cue from this duo and call up your co-host to have a constrictive wrap session about the negative feedback. Gas each other up about the episode. What did you do well? What were your favorite parts? Did your audience respond overall well to it? What were some positive comments? Would it make for a compelling segment in your next episode?

No co-host? “Sitting in emotion is different than dwelling in emotion. This is where reaching out to your support system helps,” advises Dr. Arzt. “Who can help perk you up?

Who is going to be there for you when you feel like you’re a failure? Go to those people.” Your IRL support team will make you feel like a shiny star in no time. Because, after all, you are. Oh, and one quick tip from an introvert: Before reaching out to friends and family, consider asking if they’re in a place to offer support and time. It’s always good to be mindful of everyone’s mental and emotional capacities!

If no one’s answering their phone, Dr. Arzt recommends writing down 10 things you like about yourself. Seriously. Compassion is so important when being in the public eye. Jot down what you loved about the episode, what went well, what your fans said, and what you can realistically improve on. Still fuming? Open a file and do a brain dump for five minutes without stopping or censoring. Just get the words out!

Step 3: Respond or delete

I’m a big fan of the “sleep then decide” rule. So after letting a quick 24 hours pass, it’s time to qualify the negative review (unless it was horribly offensive, in which case delete upon reading). Was the negative review constructive or just plain rude? A critic or a troll? “Learning to discern which voice is speaking to you and keeping your ego in check is part of thrusting yourself into the public eye,” explains Meredith Atwood, author of The Year of No Nonsense, and host of The Same 24 Hours podcast.

Whip out your magnifying glass and get to work. Here are some questions to ask yourself: Who wrote the comment? Have they listened to the show before? Was it about your subject or setup? Were they communicating a valid albeit opposing viewpoint? Was there a misunderstanding? Or are they just an internet bully?

Engaging in constructive conversation can be a brand-building exercise.

“If something is an aggressive character attack with no constructive feedback, then simply delete it,” advises Dr. Celan. “If it warrants a response, be very careful to be friendly and professional, as other people may see your reply.” Engaging in constructive conversation is actually a bit like brand-building. Hop on any popular company social media page, and you’ll see friendly, well-informed responses to almost all customer comments, even if they aren’t kind. Dr. Celan adds, “the way you handle yourself in a reply will influence other people much more than the review itself.”

“Unlike Google reviews, podcasters have no way of responding to reviews on Apple Podcasts, which can feel even more vulnerable,” Dr. Wyatt points out. If you can’t respond directly to the review, and you feel strongly about engaging the writer, search for an email or social media handle. Or, take a page from The Latter-Day Lesbian podcast’s notebook, and talk about it in your next episode.

Step 4: Flip it into a positive

Most seemingly negative reviews actually have value tucked into them. “Thankfully, the negative review I received was minor. It critiqued my microphone quality because they couldn’t hear me well,” Dr. Wyatt explains. “That same day, I purchased a better quality microphone to remedy the issue.”

Constructive reviews sting just like negative reviews, but they push us to grow.

“So far, I would categorize the feedback that Lisa and I have gotten as constructive criticism rather than negative comments,” explains Lynda Crotty, one half of the Fix Your Chit podcast. “Things like ‘shorten your episodes’ and ‘less intro chatting,’ which we totally agreed with and were like, done and done.”

Constructive reviews sting just like negative reviews, but they push us to grow. And without honest feedback, it’s hard to see our show clearly. “If several reviews start critiquing the same issue, it’s time to take notice and make some changes. View patterns in feedback as opportunities for growth,” says Dr. Wyatt.

For the duo of the Latter-Day Lesbian podcast, flipping their worst review into a positive took some creativity. “Our story of tragedy to triumph is hilarious. We didn’t change anything about our show as a result, but we did add some new things to our merch collection!” says Rutt. “We turned our worst review into our best-selling t-shirt!”

What better way to show the humor and humility of their show than using opposing negative reviews as a branding tactic? It’s a funny, clever way to quickly showcase their topic and tone.

All in all, Dr. Celan says, “If the reviewer was harsh, try to detach emotionally and think of it as a helpful lesson to improve your work. Most negative reviews will help you become better at podcasts in the long run.”

Step 5: Be proactive about feedback

To reduce negative feedback, April Sciacchitano, co-founder of Mix+Shine Marketing and The Corporate Dropout podcast, creates a line for listeners. “My co-host and I ask what they want to see in the future, rather than asking for critique. This helps us give our audience more of what they want while keeping the conversation positive.” Sometimes their feedback is submitted anonymously through Instagram polls, but more often, Sciacchitano asks for detailed feedback publically on their social posts, which works for their community. In this way, it’s almost like an audience engagement tool!

“Many people fear asking for feedback because they think it will be negative or critical, but more often than not it’s good or helpful,” says Lisa Diers, RD, ERTY, and the other half of Fix Your Chit podcast. “We invite any and all feedback at the end of every episode. We say, ‘If you love it, give it a fiver, if you don’t, give it whatever you feel it deserves and let us know why. It helps us improve’,” Crotty adds.

Sciacchitano also seeks out opinions of mentors and colleagues who understand their show’s objectives and our style. “Their insights and advice will be more relevant to us.” Reaching out to qualified mentors, and even other podcasters will garner smart and friendly criticism needed for growth.

If you’re still new to podcasting, join podcast Facebook groups or Reddit threads for feedback. These communities tend to be kind and knowledgeable. When asking for honest feedback, Sciacchitano suggests pointing someone to two very different episodes and asking which they prefer and why. “People can be more candid when you ask them to respond to two options, rather than asking an open-ended, ‘What do you think?’”

Next time you receive a negative review on your show, take a breath, feel all the feelings, call your co-host or Mom, qualify the review, and start playing offense. Seemingly harsh reviews are often flags from your fans that something could be better. And isn’t that why we podcast? To grow, learn, and improve?

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Sounder is an end-to-end podcast management platform designed in collaboration with creators to unlock their voices and full potential. Learn more and join our community of creators at sounder.fm.