How to Grow Your Podcast Audience from 100’s to 1,000s

How to Grow Your Audience from Hundreds to Thousands: based on our original panel of the same name given at New Media Expo ’14 with Daniel J. Lewis, David Jackson and Ray Ortega.

Daniel – @TheRamenNoodle

Dave    – @LearnToPodcast

Ray      – @PodcastHelper


Most podcasts struggle to grow past a hundred downloads, and the median is only a few hundred downloads. But imagine what you could do with an audience of thousands! Even if you think your podcast is doing well, here’s how you can grow it even more and avoid the mistakes that are preventing success.

Outline from our NMX’14 panel

What’s hurting your growth and how you can overcome it (passive tactics)

Content quality

  • Are you talking about something that others want to know?

  • Focus on a “niche”

  • Don’t stray from your purpose


    Photo by: Wayne Henderson –

  • Look for what generated biggest or best responses (shared the most, feedback, controversy, high downloads, ASK your audience, etc.)

  • Is your content exciting enough that your audience will want to share it with others?

Presentation quality

  • Speak clearly and with authority

  • Be excited! (hopefully you love your topic)

  • Content first, “fluff” last or not at all

Production quality

  • Improving overall quality separates you from like shows, makes you more likely to get featured, more likely to be shared.

  • BlogTalkRadio (bad quality)

  • good mic (ATR2100 is a good start for budget podcasters)

  • good lighting (this can be something as simple and cheap as a large window in your house)

  • HD is a given. C920 costs less than $80.

  • “Don’t let the tech get in the way of the content” – Ray

Passive SEO (iTunes and your website. Done once, move on)

    • Podcast titles: example “the Ramen Noodle” vs. “the Ramen Noodle – clean-comedy podcast” (include keywords)

    • Lack of show notes

      • Write more more than 2 sentences of show notes.

      • Goal for show notes should be a minimum of 300 words
  • Get listed in more podcast directories

    • Start at the top (iTunes, Stitcher, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Miro)

    • (183 directories as of 01/02/14)

    • “If you build it, they will come” – not necessarily but it’s a good start

Practical techniques for growing your audience (active tactics)

      • Interview people

      • small fish first (don’t go after the A-lister as your first interview…practice with friends first.)

      • make your guest look and sound their best so they’ll want to share it

      • Provide interviewee with tools to share with their followers

      • Interview or promote the influencers in your niche and get them to promote the content

      • get interviewed

      • Be an awesome guest—promote your appearances

      • Create more content

        • More podcast episodes

        • Blog posts

        • Increase your production – podcast two times a week instead of one

      • YouTube (create supplemental video)

        • 2nd largest search engine

        • Google likes multimedia

        • reach a large audience that previously didn’t know you had other related content

        • good for content that is better seen than heard

        • another level of engagement/personalism – your audience gets to see you

        • YouTube content gets shared and discovered easier

        • my contact form has inquiry asking where someone found me? YT comes up often.

      • Create less, promote more

      • Join or create a podcast network.

      • Participate in the Podcast Awards or other awards in your niche

      • Update your branding (growth by up to 25%—Todd Cochrane)

      • Consistency – ways to be consistent:

        • setup Google alerts

        • RSS readers (feedly) for finding easy content

      • Prerecord to release content while you’re away

      • Make sharable content

      • Content that others would want to share with others – Sharable content:

        • It entertains

        • Helps

        • Educates

        • creates deep content that becomes the “go-to” source

      • Live in your niche (G+, twitter, forums, facebook groups)

        • spend your time online in the places where your community is interacting

        • podcasters community on G+

        • follow relevant people in your niche on twitter & interact

        • answer questions on forums, Quora,

        • Help without asking for anything in return – let them discover you by helping

      • email signature (simple with one call to action)

      • Find non-podcasting platforms.

        • Submit to social networks like StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Reddit, Google+, etc.

        • more chances to be featured especially if your niche is not well covered

      • Talk about the influencers in your niche

        • let them know you talked about them

        • give them easy ways to share (ready made tweets, links, share buttons, images in your post)

      • Spot trends in your stats and focus the content (if you see one topic getting more listens than another)

      • Google: link: (go to and enter Link:

      • Know your audience

        • surveys (blubrry, podtrac, make your own)

        • Knowing who is listening, gives your promotion efforts direction.

        • Gender, Age, Job, Hobby, Income (demographics)

      • Consider a highly targeted ad

        • Facebook ad

        • Google adwords

        • Sponsored tweets

        • know who your audience is first so you can tailor the ad for them.

        • allows you to target exact demographics, spend less

      • Get more reviews/ratings (iTunes and now Stitcher)

        • Make it easy with URLs and links like /itunes

        • Appropriate places to ask

      • Thank people with shoutouts in your podcast

      • Make more real connections with the audience you already have

        • Have conversations

        • Call them back in some cases or offer to

        • Tell a story over many episodes (building a new podcast studio, Daniel starting a business, Dave trying to lose weight).

        • Solidify the relationships you already have

      • Include your audience

        • audio feedback in your show

        • Mention some people by name and reference

        • It’s “name-dropping” when you’re naming someone for your sake, it’s community when you name them for their sake

      • Leave feedback for other shows in your niche making sure to state your name and podcast if those shows allow it – find them with google alerts

        • Look to provide value to the conversation, not just a chance to be heard

      • Speak at events

        • Try PodCamps or local meetup groups

      • Go to events

      • Create and leverage newsletters. Much more call to action friendly. A better place to request iTunes reviews which will increase your iTunes SEO/discoverability.

      • make sure you are building an email list

        • sending regular emails out with links keeps you front of mind

        • easier to take action on a link in email than one given on a podcast

      • create more focused content to separate your show for other like shows

        • creates better search results for that narrow topic

        • become THE expert for your focused niche

      • Create “subscribe” calls-to-action, demo videos for desktops and mobile devices

      • Host giveaways

      • Network cross-promotion

      • Send “bumpers” to your favorite podcasts

      • Buy a competitor’s domain if they podfade/abandon the domain

      • Make content that takes you into other niches and return with new listeners. (idea sparked by a tip from Derek Halpern who gives an example of a fitness blogger reaching out to a fashion blogger to create content that combines niches e.g. how to get in shape to fit into a particular dress.

      • Find a niche that has dabbled in giving advice about your subject (e.g. a podcast about marketing that has done an episode about how they produce their podcast) and get them to link to you.

        • Perhaps create custom content for their niche (e.g. why marketers should be podcasting).

      • Reply to every comment (website, YouTube, twitter, G+, email, etc) and do it as quickly as possible.

        • people aren’t used to getting replies especially quick ones online – people appreciated this and look deeper at your content

        • engage in the conversation while it’s still relevant.

        • engagement drives platform promotion (facebook and YouTube like to see conversations). Facebook views increase the more engagement that happens within minutes of a post going live

        • also check out their content and comment

      • Get your own podcast app.

        • Puts you in app stores (Apple, Google Play), places podcasts aren’t normally found

        • Push notifications

        • Potentially lower barrier to entry for people unfamiliar with podcasts

      • Create audience promotion tools

        • Enable the “embed” link on powerpress. The player still works on iPhones.

      • Create your own embeddable banner

      • Create audio or video promos

      • Tweetable text

      • Sell less

        • Turns people away (preventing growth)

        • Wait till the end of your episode to promote your products and services

      • Create physical/analog items your audience can share.

        • Cards

        • Buttons

        • T-shirts

In closing, most of the items listed above create some kind of word-of-mouth promotion which tends to be the most effective way of reaching new podcast consumers. Get other people to talk about your content and you’ll see continued growth over time.