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5 Tried and True Ways to Grow Your Podcast Consistently
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The podcasting industry has experienced spectacular listenership growth over the last decade and currently shows no sign of slowing down.
In 2022 alone, monthly US podcast listeners increased by 16.5% year-over-year (YoY) to 140 million. This figure is projected to rise to 164M by 2024!
Despite this increase in popularity, carving a path to success in podcasting is easier said than done.
Luckily, there will always be someone who has gone ahead of you and conquered the same challenges you are bound to encounter.
This is why I’m passionate about learning from my peers and continually experimenting with different tactics.
I encourage you to do the same! As more people turn to podcasts as their preferred form of digital content, it’s a great time to be podcasting.
To help you along, I have complied 5 time-tested ways to grow your podcast in 2023. These are the exact strategies that have helped me grow my podcast from zero to thousands of monthly listeners.
Prefer to watch the video of this post? Here it is:
1. Remember Your Why and Avatar
Before hitting that record button, you have to be clear on the inspiration and purpose behind your podcast. This is your WHY and it’s paramount to figure it out.
How do you do that?
First, don’t fall into a trap many people find themselves in–getting into podcasting for the wrong WHY. Typical reasons include:
- To quit your full-time job
- To make a ton of money and get rich
- Have a lot of free time
- To become an influencer
This is not to say that such goals can’t be attained. You probably already know a podcaster who achieved some or all of the above. However, such accomplishments are usually a by-product of having the right WHY.
Instead, the focus and purpose behind your podcast has to be directed towards serving others.
As I like to put it:
“Seek to be a person of value, not a person of profit.”
It has to start with a genuine desire to serve other people and do what you can for them. Understand this simple truth, and you’ll be well on your way to developing a proper WHY for what you podcast.
Let’s say you are enthusiastic about health or comedy. An idea for your WHY could be, “I want to impact people’s lives by helping them experience better physical health, or I want to build a comedy podcast that entertains people with great stories when they are on the road.”
In my case, the WHY for my podcast Creating A Brand is:
“Help early-stage entrepreneurs make their first or next step in business, the right one.”
Once you’ve figured out your WHY, the next step is to create your podcast Avatar.
Creating an Avatar entails coming up with a fictitious character who’s the embodiment of your perfect listener. You want to clearly define every attribute about this person and ensure they match your big WHY.
I remember when I was developing my Avatar, I actually gave him a name! His name is Adam, and I can tell you how old he is, where he works, hobbies, dislikes, etc. It doesn’t matter if he’s a fictitious character.
By knowing everything about him, I developed a sense of having a relationship with him.
So now, every time I’m thinking of bringing on a guest or contemplating an idea for a new episode, I ask myself, “would Adam like this?”
In reality, what I am doing is asking if this decision aligns with my WHY.
Remember your WHY at all times! This is one of the most impactful ways to grow your podcast.
Want to dig a little deeper into this topic? Then you should definitely check out my podcast interview with John Lee Dumas, where we delve more into the process of creating your ideal customer avatar.
2. Connect with Ideal Listeners
The next step to growing with your podcast is connecting with the people who listen to your show. While there are numerous ways to go about it, I’ll share one particular strategy that’s been working for me.
- Keep an eye out for people who regularly engage with the podcast-related content you post on social media.
- Once you notice someone who’s liked or commented on your posts several times, send them a message. It could be something simple like, “Hey, I saw that you like this. I really appreciate it. Thanks so much.”
- If they respond, that’s awesome! Now, you need to keep the conversation flowing. You can try something like, “Hey, would you mind getting on a 10-minute call with me to discuss…? Or can I ask you a couple of questions about…?”
- You don’t have to ask these specific questions. Anything that can help you to start developing a relationship with that person is a win.
Now here’s the caveat, you have to be very selective with who you engage with. Recall the Podcast Avatar I discussed a few paragraphs ago?
Here’s where they come in—every listener you choose to interact with actively needs to match your Avatar as much as possible.
Let me give a personal example from my own podcast:
Early in my podcasting journey, I encountered this guy who liked my show and often left comments. Upon further interaction, I realized he worked in corporate sales.
Automatically, this meant he didn’t match my Avatar.
The downside is that the feedback he shared would probably not be appropriate for my podcast. And this turned out to be the case when he told me to make my episodes longer while I needed to do the exact opposite—make them shorter!
My ideal listeners are early-stage entrepreneurs. Given that most work long hours, I have to keep my podcast episodes short and succinct if I want to keep them engaged.
As you can see, though he was well-meaning, I had to ignore the advice.
It would be best if you were also very selective with the questions you asked during your interaction with an ideal listener.
Don’t be that person who asks people, “What do you like about the show? What can I do to make it better?” Noone really knows how to answer such questions, and often, they will lie so as not to hurt your feelings.
If you are looking for constructive feedback, you won’t get it this way.
Instead, you have to frame your questions in a way that takes you out of the equation and lets you effectively probe for the truth.
In my podcast interview with Rob Fitzpatrick—author of the book The Mom Test— you’ll learn exactly how to do that.
3. Stay Consistent with Episode Releases
Ever heard of the phrase, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. When it comes to podcasts, this seriously couldn’t be more true.
Here’s something I noticed, especially with people who are just getting started with podcasting:
They look at some of the industry’s big names, and the first thing they see is the podcasts with massive audiences. But it doesn’t end there; these guru podcasters also have a very well-polished website, a Youtube Channel, and, not to forget, an active TikTok channel! So what’s the next thing that comes to mind right after launching their podcast? “I need to start a TikTok or YouTube channel as a way to grow my podcast faster.”
There’s just one problem with this; you should start a podcast to start a podcast, not open a blog, create a YouTube channel, write a book or build courses.
If you’ve decided you want to podcast, keep it the main thing. Otherwise, you’ll easily find yourselves in a situation where you’re like, “oh, I was having trouble finding time to create new social content. That’s why I couldn’t keep on releasing episodes.”
This is one of the biggest problems facing the podcasting industry.
Too many people spread themselves too thin and fail to remain consistent with producing new episodes.
I vividly recall a conversation I had with John Lee Dumas a while back on this exact issue. At one point, he asked me, “Alex, do you wonder what’s the difference between my show and your show?”
Then, I only had a few hundred people listening to my podcast every week, while Dumas had over a million! The difference was obvious, right?
But then he responded and said, “seven years.” I didn’t know what to say, so I sat back quietly. After a while, I asked him,” what do you mean?”
His response is etched in my mind to this very day: “Alex, you have a terrific show. The only difference is I’ve been doing mine seven years longer, and I have never missed a release that I promised my listeners. Stay the course, and you’ll be in the same place.”
There’s a lesson for all of us; stay consistent with your episode releases. Once you get a great handle on podcasting, only then can you start to incorporate new elements.
Here’s a fantastic tool to help you streamline your process and stay on top of every podcast episode release.
PodcastSOP is a workflow management software designed specifically for podcasters. Click here for a 45-day free trial.
4. Think Different with Marketing
Many people now believe that TikTok is a great way to grow a podcast. Yet, before you jump onto the bandwagon, pause and go back to your WHY.
Looking at your Avatar, are your ideal listeners on TikTok? For my specific scenario, the answer is No. Early-stage entrepreneurs trying to get their first or next business up and running are probably too preoccupied to pay too much attention to TikTok.
While I have always preferred to discover my own unique ways for growing my podcast, I actually got the phrase, Think Different with Marketing is from an interview I had with Mike Michalowicz.
During the podcast interview, Mike shared why spending your time trying to market your business like everyone else will not work. Instead, you need to imbue your personality into the way you market.
To help you better understand the idea of thinking different with marketing, I’ll share my current number one strategy for marketing.
Like the TikTok example above, don’t adopt this tactic strategy unless it fits your character and Podcast Avatar. It might not work for you.
So, I love to read, and before I bring a guest onto my podcast, I read their whole book. This way, I can ask very precise questions and make the interview as valuable as possible for my listeners.
More than that, I just feel like I would want someone to leave me a review if I wrote a book. So what do I do next? Leave a descriptive review, of course!
However, I wanted to go beyond leaving generic text reviews. So what I now do is instead post a video review on Amazon. By using a contrasting video background, you can be sure it’s pretty visible (i.e., more people see it).
In the video, not only do I talk about the book, but I also insert one slide with a link to my podcast interview with the author. This way, anyone who’s still on the fence about buying the book can watch my interview to learn more.
I can tell you that this one tactic has grown my audience by 20%! When you take into account that I already had thousands of listeners, it’s a significant increase.
Again, just because this strategy has been super effective for my podcast does not mean it will be for yours. Instead, I shared this to inspire you to think different with marketing and do what you believe will work for you.
5. Be Willing to Change
There’s a simple yet profound quote from Marshall Goldsmith that I love. It says: What got you here won’t get you there.
This means if you currently have a hundred people listening to your podcast every week, what you did to go from zero to a hundred will not get you from 100 to 200. Simply put, you have to be willing to change things if you want to grow your podcast.
When I say be willing to change, I mean you need to continually improve and find new ways to disrupt the market little by little. For example, as your podcast grows, are your Avatar and your WHY changing? Is it time to make a shift?
The reality is, in podcasting, nothing ever really goes viral. Think about this: rarely will you hear someone say they went from 300 to 5,000 downloads in the span of a single episode. Occasionally, a celebrity guest may come in, and the numbers spike slightly, but that’s the exception rather than the rule.
So, you have to push past your limits and think differently with everything you’re doing, not just marketing.
Don’t wait for the big names in podcasting to make changes. Take the initiative and find something no one’s done before. When you do this, you can rest assured that people will take notice and share it with their friends. This is how to grow your podcast and your brand quickly.
That said, embracing change is never easy, and sometimes it’s even outright scary. Probably right now, you’re thinking, “I get you Alex, but I’ll stick with what I see working for other people. I don’t want to rock the boat.”
My response is that even if you don’t do anything else that I’ve talked about, do this one thing– listen to my interview with Seth Godin, where we expound on the whole concept of being willing to change.
In the episode, Seth talks about embracing change through an approach he calls Freedom to be in the Practice. It’s an absolute game changer!
It will inspire you to get out there and try something new, even if you feel you might not be the best person for the job.
Let me bring it home with this quote: What we do for ourselves dies with us, but what we do for others echoes into eternity.
If something helps one person’s life, then it’s worth it for me. As a Christian, I have based my entire life on love & service. Nevertheless, you don’t necessarily have to be spiritual; anyone can love and serve other people.
If you can build your podcasts on this universal principle, you will do great in this industry and find countless ways to grow your podcast in 2022.