“How do I increase my podcast downloads?”
This is a fairly common question in the podcasting space and for good reason. Podcasting is still young, remarkably so, and as a result,we don’t have much to go on as far as statistics.
Sure we could focus on website traffic, but the majority of podcast listeners aren’t in a position to visit our websites.
What about social media following? Again…the majority of podcast listeners aren’t going back to social while listening.
What about subscribers? This would be the ideal metric…but unfortunately, most platforms don’t share that information.
So downloads are all we’ve got.
So back to the original problem…how do we increase our downloads?
What can we do to boost exposure to our show and get more people discovering what we do?
In my experience it comes down to two main things:
- Show Quality
- Attracting Existing Podcast Listeners
Now, I want to get into what all of that means in a second but since this is my first blog post let me take a moment to introduce myself.
Who Am I?
My name is Gregg Clunis and I’m the founder here at Buzzcastr.
Over the last two years I’ve been involved, very intimately I might say, in the podcasting world.
I’ve helped launch over 15 new shows. I’ve created and hosted 4 shows of my own.
In fact, one time I took a show from idea to iTunes in less than 10 days (6 to be exact).
But the important piece of information here is that my current podcast, Tiny Leaps, Big Changes, went from absolutely zero audience to its first 100,000 downloads in just 6 weeks. Now it’s comfortably over the 500,000 mark and growing.
Here’s what I learned while pushing and maintaining that growth…
Podcast listeners are a unique type of consumer. They aren’t like people who read blogs or people who watch videos. They are a totally different breed.
We need to treat them that way.
Consider this, the average podcast listener isn’t just sitting down and listening to a show.
Think about it, what are you doing when you listen to a podcast? You’re probably at the gym, or doing chores, or going for a walk.
Podcasts are a passive medium. Meaning, your listeners are consuming them while doing other things rather than sitting down and devoting their attention to it.
What does that mean?
It means that it’s your job to EARN their attention.
Let me repeat that…
With a podcast you not only need to worry about getting the click, you also need to then earn the listener’s attention after they’ve hit play.
You need to force them to pause what they are doing in order to pay attention to what you are doing.
When I originally started work on Tiny Leaps, Big Changes I had one philosophy that affected all of my decisions.
“Treat the production of this show the same way a TV producer would treat their show.”
In other words, prioritize quality and entertainment value over everything.
How to Grow Your Podcast
This is the first thing you need to focus on with your podcast.
1. Show Quality
Your episode downloads come from listeners. Listeners choose your show because they like it. They like your show because it’s good.
It’s actually pretty simple.
So logically, your first goal with a show is to create something good.
This means putting in the effort to produce something that stands out in your space. Putting in the effort to try different things. Experimenting with your approach and with the types of episodes you create.
Doing this is the key to winning in the podcasting world.
For example, when John Lee Dumas launched his award-winning podcast, Entrepreneur On Fire, there were already hundreds of podcasts interviewing entrepreneurs. If he had created another “me too” show it likely would have gone nowhere.
But he didn’t do that. Instead, he found a way to be different from the other shows by committing to a seven day per week schedule.
When you look at his show compared to other shows interviewing entrepreneurs this is really his only differentiator, but by owning it he was able to create a show that immediately stood out and attracted an audience.
Similarly, when I launched Tiny Leaps I knew that the personal development space was over-represented in podcasting. So instead of creating another 30-minute interview show I decided to go with a 10-minute solo show. Instead of focusing on the big ideas in personal development I decided to prioritize the practicalities. Instead of promoting myself as the authority, I focused on being a student on the same journey.
I’ll be honest in saying that some of these weren’t conscious decisions at the time, but they undoubtedly played a major role in the success of the show.
So how do you apply this to your own show? Here’s the good news, it’s actually not that difficult.
- Identify what already exists
- Do something different that improves the value
There are a million and one examples for you to pull from when looking for a different approach. Look at the structure of TV shows, the structure of successful movies, how the best YouTube videos are put together. Figure out what works in other contexts and apply them to your own environment.
2. Attract Existing Podcast Listeners
Podcasting is still in its infancy. Unlike blog posts or YouTube videos, it’s still not super easy to consume podcasts. There is no direct way to start conversations around the episode or the show. There isn’t even really a great way to connect with the hosts.
What this means is that you can’t treat the promotion of your show in the same way bloggers treat promotion of their articles.
Instead of indiscriminately attracting people in your niche, you have to specifically target people who ALREADY listen to podcasts.
Why? Because in the beginning stages of your show you can’t afford to spend the time it would take to educate an audience. Spend that time exclusively on attracting people who already know the value of a podcast.
You can do this a few ways:
- Optimize your show and episode for discovery within iTunes and other platforms
- Being interviewed on other podcasts
- Pre-Roll promo swaps with other podcasts
Basically, you need to go everywhere podcast listeners are and put yourself in front of them.
Once you have maximized the number of downloads you’ll get from existing listeners you can start to focus on people who don’t currently listen to podcasts by making it easier for them to consume yours (publishing on YouTube, Soundcloud, etc etc.)
Growing your podcast is a product of a ridiculous amount of work and effort. It’s also a product of spending your time in the right places. From what I’ve seen the right places to spend your time, in the beginning, are in producing a top notch show that gets noticed. From there it’s all about attracting an audience that requires the least amount of effort to convert into listeners. By doing this you should start to see an increase in your download numbers, audience size, and hopefully your email list.